What to Expect After a Dental Bone Graft: Useful Advice

Discover how long to heal after tooth extraction and bone graft and how to speed up the bone graft healing process from our dental implant specialists.

What to Expect After a Dental Bone Graft 

dental bone graft

If you have been told that you need a bone graft before you can have dental implants, you may be understandably feeling a little bit concerned about the procedure. However, it is worth noting that many patients who receive bone grafts do not feel any pain at all during the healing process as long as they take their antibiotics properly and visit their dentist for regular check-ups. 

If you do feel any pain or discomfort in the days after surgery, your dentist can prescribe you pain medication so that you are more comfortable. However, it is worth noting that pain medication can make you feel groggy and slow down your reflexes, so you should not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking it. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen. 

How long to heal after tooth extraction and bone graft?

Before we discuss exactly how long it takes to recover from dental bone graft surgery, it is first important to know why it is needed. When you lose a tooth, the bone underneath the tooth starts to lose density if the missing tooth is not replaced quickly enough. This is because the tooth root that stimulated bone growth has been removed. If you undergo dental implant surgery shortly after you lose a tooth, usually a bone graft is not needed.  However, if you do not have enough bone mass to support the implant, you will require bone grafting before the implant procedure

The exact recovery period will be dependent on a number of factors, including the type of surgery you require, as well as your age, your current oral health, and your overall physical health. However, as a general rule, the recovery time for bone grafting procedures falls somewhere between two weeks and two months. 

If you are getting full dental implants, you will have to wait until the bone graft has fully fused with the bones that are already in your mouth before you can go ahead with dental implant surgery.  

How can I speed up the bone graft healing process?

Although you cannot actively speed up the bone grafting healing process, there are steps that you can take to care for your mouth after surgery and to reduce your risk of complications such as an infection, bleeding, or a blood clot. 

Reduce swelling

Dental bone graft surgery is highly likely to cause your face to swell up. However, there are ways that you can actively reduce the swelling. You can start by applying ice to the affected area for the first two days following your surgery. This process stops the blood from flowing into the gum tissues, minimizing bleeding and helping your mouth to heal properly. 

Change your diet

You will need to make quite drastic changes to your diet after you have undergone a bone grafting procedure. Depending on the extent of your surgery, you may be advised to only drink cold liquids for the first few days before moving on to soft foods such as mashed potatoes and pureed fruit

You should avoid eating any food that requires chewing and especially foods that are crunchy, sharp, or hard for at least two weeks to protect your gum tissues and avoid any bleeding. 

Do not use straws after your surgery, as the sucking motion can dislodge the graft. 

Sleep on your back 

After surgery, you should be advised to sleep on your back, with your head elevated and propped up on a pillow. This is to prevent blood from pooling at the bone graft site and to minimize inflammation.

If you struggle to stay sleeping on your back, at least try to avoid sleeping on the side where the bone graft took place.  

Avoid strenuous physical activity

At least for the first few days after surgery, you should avoid any strenuous physical activity as this could disturb the healing process. As you start to feel better, you can gradually start to take part in your usual activities again. 

Complete your antibiotics 

Your dentist should prescribe a course of antibiotics to prevent an infection from occurring. It is crucial that you finish taking all your medication as a failure to do so can increase your risk of developing an infection. 

Practice good oral hygiene

If you want to help the healing process, good oral hygiene is essential. You should brush your teeth gently around the surgical site and avoid using an electric toothbrush as the vibration can be detrimental to the overall healing process. 

If you need further advice about how to practice good oral hygiene, our first-rate dentist Asheville NC can tell you everything you need to know to keep your teeth and gums in optimum condition. 

Do not smoke 

Smoking has been proven to increase the chance of bone graft failure, so if you smoke, you should try to stop, or at the very least cut back, while you are recovering from this type of surgery. 

What are the signs of dental bone graft failure?

dental bone graft

Although this is uncommon, it is always a good idea to know the signs that your dental bone grafting procedure may have failed. One of the most vital aspects of this dental procedure is in ensuring that the area of the bone graft is completely cleaned out and all the inflamed tissue is removed before proceeding. If this does not happen, an infection can occur, which may lead your body to reject the graft. 

Other common causes of failure include:

  • Poor blood supply 
  • Poor physical health 
  • An allergic reaction 
  • Tissue damage 
  • Autoimmune disorders 

Would you like more information on our bone grafting procedures or dental implant services? Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your oral health needs in greater detail – our friendly and knowledgeable team are ready and waiting to help you create a winning smile.