Bone Grafting for Implants

Do I have enough bone for dental implants?

After tooth extraction, if the walls of the socket are very thick, they will usually fill naturally with bone in five to six months. However, when the walls of your socket are very thin (such as in your upper and lower front teeth), this type of healing does not occur. In these situations, a bone graft is often placed at the time of tooth extraction to help your body fill in the empty socket with bone. This step will maintain the width and volume of bone you will need for implant placement several months later.

An example of a jaw with inadequate front bone structure to support an implant
1. Inadequate Bone
A depiction of the placed bone grafting material to increase the bone structure
2. Graft Material Placed
A representation of dental implants placed after bone grafting
3. Implants Placed

There may be inadequate bone for implant placement if your tooth was removed many years ago and your bony ridge is extremely thin. In this case, a bone graft can be placed next to the thin bone. It is allowed to heal for up to six months. After the graft has fused to your pre-existing bone, the implant is placed. Many different bone-grafting materials are available, including your own bone. Using your bone for the grafting is the “gold standard” and the preferred grafting material by Dr. Lee. It is an easy procedure to borrow a small amount of bone from another site inside your mouth and transfer it to where it is needed to create an ideal foundation for your dental implant.

A jaw lacking enough bone in the back of the mouth for a dental implant
1. Inadequate Bone
An example of a dental implant after adding jaw structure with bone grafting
2. Graft Material and Implant Placed

You may also need bone grafting if the sinus cavities in your upper jaw are very large or very low and extend into the tooth-bearing areas. This often occurs when teeth in the back of the upper jaw have been gone for many years, and the amount of bone available for implant placement is reduced. A “sinus grafting procedure” may be required. During this procedure, the membrane that lines the sinus will be located and elevated. Bone will then be added to restore the bone height. This procedure often can be performed at the time of implant placement if there is enough residual bone in the tooth-bearing area.