Bone Grafting for Implants

Do I Have Enough Bone?

After tooth extraction, if the walls of the socket are very thick, they will usually fill naturally with bone in three months. However, when the walls of your socket are very thin (such as in your upper and lower front teeth), this type of healing will not be as predictable. 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 a dental implant placement several months later.

Ridge Augmentation

Illustrated thin bony ridge with inadequate bone for dental implants
1. Inadequate Bone
Illustration of Bone Graft Material Placed on bony ridge
2. Graft Material Placed
Illustration of Dental Implants Placed After Ridge Augmentation Bone Graft
3. Implants Placed

There may be inadequate bone for tooth implant placement if your natural tooth was removed many years ago and your bony ridge is thin. In this case, a bone graft can be placed next to the thin bone and allowed to heal for up to six months. After the graft has fused to your bone, the implant is placed.  Many different bone grafting materials are available for use.

Sinus Lift

Illustration of inadequate upper jaw bone for dental implant
1. Inadequate Bone
Bone Graft Material and Dental Implant Placed
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 often occurs when teeth in the back of a person’s upper jaw have been removed many years before, and the amount of bone available for implant placement is limited. A “sinus lift” procedure is then required. It is performed in the office with local anesthesia and sedation. During this procedure, the membrane that lines the sinus will be located and elevated. Bone will then be added to restore the bone height and ensure that dental implants of an adequate length can be placed. This procedure can often be performed at the time of implant placement.