Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

A common question when considering dental implants is, Do I have enough bone? 

After tooth extraction, if the walls of the socket are thick, the socket will usually fill naturally with bone in four to six months. However, when the walls of your socket are thin (such as in your upper and lower front teeth), socket healing will not be as predictable. In these situations, a bone graft is placed in the socket at the time of tooth extraction to help your body fill in the empty space with bone. This step will maintain the width and volume of bone you will need for future implant placement.

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

After the graft has fused to your pre-existing bone, the ridge will be re-entered and the implant placed. Bone grafting is usually a relatively comfortable office procedure. Many different bone-grafting materials are available, including your own bone.

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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, and extend into the tooth-bearing areas. This can occur when teeth in the back of your upper jaw have been removed many years before, making the amount of bone available for implant placement limited.