What is a Bone Grafting?

Dental bone grafting is a surgical procedure that takes place when the jawbone starts losing its density, volume, and strength. It is often a prerequisite to restorative procedures like dental implants to rebuild the jawbone so it can support new teeth implants or dentures

Sometimes, a dental bone grafting procedure is necessary to prevent gum and tooth health deterioration after age or disease-related bone loss.

In this article, we will cover a general overview of a dental bone graft, its types, procedures, and recovery tips. Keep reading to find out why it is important for lasting oral health and whether you need it.

What is Bone Grafting?

A dental bone graft is a surgical process where a surgeon uses the transplanted bone to restore and repair the jawbone which is losing density and volume. The transplanted bone can come from another part of the patient’s body or a donor.

In rare cases, the surgeon might source bone grafts from animals. However, such cases require extensive analysis for biocompatibility to ensure the patient’s body accepts the bone graft. In other cases, synthetic bone grafts might be used to carry out the procedure.

Why Is It Important?

Without adequate bone mass, dental implants might not hold and could lead to procedural failures. Furthermore, the loss of jawbone density can deteriorate overall health, leading to loose teeth that fall out easily.

A bone graft provides a frame for the weakening jaw to regain bone density and strength. The surgically fused dental bone graft provides scaffolding-life support to the jawbone to stimulate the natural regenerative and healing process.

Once the jawbone starts repairing and rebuilding, the effects of bone loss reduce gradually. This allows surgeons to perform dental implant surgeries that require a solid foundation in the jaw beneath the gums.

Types of Bone Grafts

Your primary dental healthcare provider will decide what type of bone graft will work best for you. There are several types of dental bone grafts to perform the surgical procedure and recover from bone loss in the jaw.

·      Autograft

An autograft refers to bone tissue that comes from another part of the patient’s own body. The surgeon might derive bone tissue from the back of the jaw, chin, hip, or tibia. Since it’s from the patient’s own body, they have a lower chance of experiencing bone graft rejection. However, it could lead to a prolonged recovery and painful post-recovery symptoms due to multiple surgeries.

·      Allograft

An allograft is a dental bone graft that comes from a donor who either volunteers or is deceased and is kept in a tissue bank after processing. It is best for major bone reconstruction and does not require matching the patient’s blood type with the donor. However, this type of bone graft is less accessible because of limited supply.

·      Xenograft

A xenograft refers to bone graft material from an animal, such as a pig or cow. The surgeon will perform extensive anti-bacterial cleaning before using it as bone tissue to repair the patient’s weak jawbone. It is more easily available than an allograft or in case of complicated autografting. However, the risk of disease transmission or bacterial infections is relatively high with xenografting.

·      Alloplast

An alloplast refers to bone grafting using synthetic bone graft tissue. It typically contains calcium sulphate or calcium phosphorous, the primary elements that make up bone-like structures in the human body. Synthetic bone grafts like alloplast are widely accessible and easy to perform surgeries with. However, they also pose a higher risk of rejection.

·      Sinus Lift

This type of bone grafting procedure involves restoring the position of sinuses above the upper jaw. In some cases, the sinuses move down due to bone loss in the upper jaw. It also impacts the upper jaw stability.

A sinus lift bone graft restores bone strength and volume in the upper jaw to support the medically appropriate position of the sinus in the patient.

The improved maxillary sinus position enhances the overall jawbone strength to endure lasting dental implants. However, the process is complicated and costlier than other dental bone grafts.

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

Bone grafting is a crucial procedure to ensure the success of a dental implant surgery. It provides a stable foundation for dental implants and is responsible for their long-term success. It becomes necessary when the existing bone structure is insufficient to support dental implants or dentures.

The jawbone might be weak due to bone loss which might have been the result of aging, periodontal disease, trauma, injury, or tooth extraction. A dental bone graft provides adequate bone structure to integrate dental implants successfully into the jawbone.

For dental implants in Toronto, surgeons often assist patients with bone grafting before installing replacement teeth. For example, a patient might have been edentulous for a long period or experienced significant bone loss in the jaw area.

The Bone Grafting Procedure

·      Pre-Surgery Prep

Your dentist will perform a detailed examination of your oral health. Then, an X-ray to assess bone loss in your jaw. Following that, they will suggest treatment options based on your needs.

·      The Surgery

During the bone grafting procedure, the dentist will use local anesthesia to numb and create a small incision to reveal the jawbone beneath the gum. After disinfecting the area, they will add the dental bone graft precisely to the defective area and optionally seal it with a membrane. The incision is then closed and stitched.

·      Post-Surgery Care and Recovery

The bone graft recovery will begin after the procedure. You might feel pain, bruising, and swelling. These are normal symptoms. Your dentist will prescribe antibiotics or pain relievers to alleviate them.

Often, small sand-like bone fragments come out of the surgical site, which is also normal. Discuss with your dental care provider to ensure your healing as expected.

Risks and Benefits of Bone Grafting

The bone grafting procedures commonly have a high success rate. Here are a few common benefits of dental bone grafts:

  • Eligibility for restorative dental treatments (dental implants)
  • Bone structure restoration
  • Improved jaw stability
  • Improved jaw strength

However, there are also risks and complications associated with the normally safe bone grafting procedure. They include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Anesthesia side effects

Ideal Candidates for Bone Grafting

The ideal candidates for dental bone grafts are those who require jawbone augmentation for success with dental implants. Moreover, an individual will be eligible if they have congenital bone defects. Or, if faces serious bone loss due to facial trauma or injury.

It is advised that the candidate does not have any uncontrolled medical conditions, active infections (especially around the gums or bone tissue), or poor blood clotting ability. Their overall health and healing capacity must be good.

Further, certain conditions automatically disqualify patients for bone grafting, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Blood-thinning medications/prescriptions

If you think that you are eligible for a bone grafting procedure in Toronto, contact a periodontist or oral surgeon for professional advice.

Recovery and Outlook

It takes a few days to a week before the pain and swelling wane following the procedure. However, complete bone graft recovery can take 3 to 9 months. It depends on the patient’s healing capacity, post-operative care, type and location of the bone graft.

Your dentist might advise the following steps as post-surgical care for a smoother recovery:

  • Follow post-operative instructions
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Stick to prescribed medications (as directed)

Your dentist will carry out periodical assessments to let you know when your bone is strong enough for dental implant surgery. In the meantime, you can expect your jawbone to recover volume and density during the recovery period.

Many patients report improved oral function and facial aesthetics after a successful bone grafting procedure. It is best to understand bone graft risks and benefits with an experienced dentist near you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

·      What is a dental bone graft?

It is a surgical procedure that restores your jawbone’ strength and volume. It uses a piece of bone from your body, a donor, or synthetic material.

·      Why do I need a dental bone graft?

You might need it to ensure optimal bone structure and strength to provide a stable foundation for dental implants for long-term success.

·      Does dental bone graft recovery take long?

Depending on certain factors like age, overall health, and lifestyle, the healing process can take between 3 and 9 months.

Below, we share some common facts to debunk a few myths regarding the bone grafting process.

·      Myth #1: It’s Only for Older People

Fact: Patients of all ages who require additional bone support can benefit from a dental bone graft.

·      Myth #2: It’s a Must Before Dental Implants

Fact: Your dentist might advise a dental implant surgery without a bone graft. Note, this happens when your jawbone is already in good shape.


Dental bone grafting is a surgical procedure that can improve bone density and volume in the jaw. It can rebuild jaw strength to support dental implants and improve overall facial aesthetics.

However, you will require professional consultation and surgical expertise to assess the bone graft risks and benefits based on your needs.

Schedule a consultation with a certified dental specialist in Toronto for professional help.