Do Dental Implants Require Bone Grafts: What You Need to Know

Discover if you need a dental bone graft for dental implants and how the procedure works. Plus, find out how to care for your dental bone graft.

Do dental implants require bone grafts?

dental implant bone graft

If you are looking for a permanent solution to missing teeth, then dental implant treatment is a great option. Widely regarded as the closest reconstructive procedure to regaining your natural teeth, dental implants are titanium screws that are inserted into the jawbone and act as a tooth root.  

However, if your jaw does not have sufficient bone mass, the implantation process will not work. This is where a procedure known as a dental bone graft comes into play. 

What is a dental bone graft?

Bone grafts, sometimes referred to as block grafts, are a fairly straightforward surgical procedure that is carried out by doctor or dental surgeon. A bone graft works by increasing the width and height of the bone at the site where the implant or implants need to be placed. 

There are several different types of bone graft procedures, including:


This is where the bone is taken from somewhere else on your body, such as the chin, hip, or the back of the jaw itself. With this type of bone grafting procedure, there is less risk of the body rejecting the bone.


This is where the bone is donated from another person. This type of procedure works in exactly the same way as an autogenous bone graft. 


This where the bone is taken from an animal and used for bone grafts. This bone is typically taken from either horses or cows. 


This is a synthetic bone substitute that is chemically very similar to human bone. This type of bone is specifically designed to promote new natural bone formation. 

Why might you need a bone graft?

As briefly mentioned above, the foundation of a dental implant is bone which means that you need to have sufficient bone mass if you want your implants to be a success. 

If you have lost bone density in your jaw, your jawbone may not be thick enough to place the titanium screw needed to hold your implant in place. There are several reasons why your jawbone might not have sufficient density, including:

  • Development defects
  • Gum disease
  • Face injury or trauma 
  • Empty spaces after tooth loss or tooth extraction

If you are looking for dental implants Asheville , our experienced dentists will carry out a thorough examination of your mouth and jaw to determine whether a bone graft is needed or not. 

How does a dental bone graft work?

Although it may sound like a fairly complex (and scary) procedure, a bone graft is quite straightforward, although it requires a lengthy recovery time. 

Typically, a dental bone graft is carried out under a local anesthetic. However, you can request sedation if you suffer from dental anxiety. If a large graft is required, you may have to go into the hospital and have a general anesthetic. 

Once you are ready, your dentist or surgeon will carefully lift the gum tissue away from the area, place the chosen grafting material and secure it. Your gum will then be stitched back over the graft. This procedure usually takes around an hour from start to finish. 

You will then have to return to your dentist around a week later to have your stitches removed. 

It can take between 3-9 months for the graft to knit into your own bone, and then you will be ready for your dental implants surgery

How to care for your bone graft

bone graft

Depending on the type of dental bone graft procedure that you had, your dentist will provide you with clear guidance on how to care for your bone graft. If you are worried about your oral health, you should know that the success rate for bone grafts is very high as long as you have the procedure carried out by a medically trained professional and that you follow your aftercare instructions to the letter. 

As is the case with any surgical procedure, you may experience some pain or discomfort during the healing process, but this shouldn’t be any worse than any other type of dental procedure such as tooth extraction. You can ask your dentist for prescription-strength painkillers if you are concerned about being in pain after your surgery. 

Other post-operative care tips include:

  • Applying ice packs to reduce pain and swelling in the first few days 
  • Eating soft, bland foods for the first few days 
  • Sleeping with your head slightly elevated for the first few days to help prevent blood from pooling at the site of the incision. 
  • Avoid hot liquids such as coffee or soup
  • Avoid hard and crunchy foods such as nuts or apples 
  • Avoid any strenuous physical activity or contact sports 

How much does bone grafting for dental implants cost?

The cost of dental bone grafts can vary greatly and will be dependent on the complexity of the procedure and the bone graft materials used. If you choose bone graft from an animal or synthetic substance, the cost will be quite less than if you choose bone material harvested from your own body. 

Unfortunately, many insurance providers do not cover the cost of dental bone grafts, although you should always ask to make sure. For example, if your doctor states that the procedure is medically necessary, your provider may cover part of the cost of the surgery. 

How do I prepare for a bone graft?

As this is a routine dental procedure, there is not much that you have to do to prepare. That being said, to ensure optimum oral health and a smooth procedure, you should:

  • Avoid eating or drinking anything 8-12 hours before the procedure. Although this will be dependent on the type of anesthesia, you will be receiving. 
  • Talk to your dentist about any medications you are currently taking, such as blood thinners which may affect the surgery. 
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up once the surgery is complete, as you may feel groggy. 

If you would like any further information on bone grafts for dental implants, or you would like to book an initial consultation for implants, please contact us here.