Dental bone grafting, also known as bone augmentation, involves the transplantation of new bone tissue from either another part of your body, a donor, an animal such as cows, or synthetic sources. Regardless of its origin, this new bone is inserted into existing bone, prompting your body to stimulate bone growth in that area. As the graft fuses and integrates, it enhances the strength and density of your existing bones. Essentially, it initiates a natural response within your body, fortifying your bone structure.

dental bone grafting

Why would I need a bone graft?

Well, healthy strong bones are important for keeping our teeth firmly anchored and secure for chewing. Bone grafting helps strengthen areas in our mouths where there’s a risk of tooth movement, looseness, or loss, ensuring our teeth to remain in place and healthy.

Common reasons why bone grafts are often necessary

  1. For Dental Implants: Dental implants need enough bone in the jaw to hold them securely. If there isn’t sufficient bone, a bone graft may be necessary before getting an implant.
  2. To Fight Gum Disease: Gum disease can damage the bone around your teeth. Catching it early can stop the damage, but if it’s too late, the bone won’t grow back on its own. A bone graft can help strengthen your smile if you’re at risk of tooth mobility or loss due to gum disease.
  3. Preventing Bone Loss: When a tooth is removed, the surrounding bone can shrink over time. Even if you’re not planning to replace the tooth with an implant, this bone loss can affect neighboring teeth.

4 Types of Dental Bone Grafts

This isn’t an exhaustive list. But it covers the four main types of dental bone grafts you’ll likely come across. You’ll see them when you visit a general dentist or a specialist.

  1. Periodontal Bone Graft: This is the kind of bone graft you might need if your gum disease is moderate to severe and your teeth are loose or at risk of becoming loose.
  2. Socket Preservation: Dentists often do socket grafts after a tooth extraction. This is especially true if you plan to get dental implants soon. When a tooth is pulled, the extraction site often starts losing bone. This makes it necessary to place a graft right away to offset this bone loss. The main goal of a socket graft is to prevent the worsening of the alveolar bone (jaw bone) before it starts.
  3. Ridge Augmentation: Complete dentures require a secure seal with your gum tissue to remain stable. However, the underlying structure shaping your gums is the bone beneath them. In cases where dentures don’t fit well or there’s significant bone loss, possibly due to wearing dentures overnight, ridge augmentation, involving bone grafting to restore the bone arch where teeth once were, might be necessary.
  4. Sinus Lift: The roots of your upper molars extend close to your sinuses. When these teeth are extracted or removed, the sinus lining may drop into the vacant space. Before placing dental implants, the sinus membrane must be elevated. Then, fill the void with a graft.

Bone Grafting Methods


Autografts also referred to as autologous or autogenous bone grafts, involve using bone taken from the patient’s own body. In dental procedures, autografts are usually sourced from the jaw, hard palate, or chin. In cases where these areas don’t provide enough bone, tissue may be taken from the hip or shinbone. The primary advantage of an autograft is the minimal risk of graft rejection since the bone comes from the patient’s own body. However, a drawback is the need for an additional surgical site.


Allograft is typically obtained from deceased donors. Before using the bone or any other tissue, thorough screening of the donor is essential to ensure there are no infectious diseases present. Once harvested, the bone undergoes various treatments to make it compatible with the recipient, aiming to reduce the risk of immune reactions. These treatments may include irradiation, freeze-drying, and chemical processes like the application of hydrochloric acid. The primary disadvantage of allografts is the possibility of immune reactions or rejection of the donated tissue.


A xenograft is sourced from an animal, commonly a cow or pig. In this type of graft, the bone undergoes careful processing to retain its mineral components primarily. One benefit of xenografts is the ability to quickly obtain large bone samples with the desired microstructure, enhancing compatibility at the surgical site. Xenografts effectively aid in bone reconstruction by serving as both a mechanical support and biological placeholder within the jaw. Initially, the xenograft provides physical support at the surgical site. Eventually, the body gradually replaces the xenograft with new bone.

Alloplastic Graft

Alloplastic is made from materials that are not obtained from animal or human sources. These grafts can be derived from natural sources like elements or minerals, synthetic (artificial) substances, or a combination of both. Many dentists favor alloplastic grafts because they eliminate the need to harvest tissue from another source.

Alloplastic grafts may consist of hydroxyapatite (HA), calcium carbonate, and tricalcium phosphate. Hydroxyapatite is commonly preferred for its strength, durability, and excellent integration with bone, as a significant portion of human bone comprises a form of hydroxyapatite. Calcium carbonate is decreasing in popularity because it tends to resorb more rapidly, potentially making the bone more prone to breakage.

What To Expect from Bone Graft Procedure?

Your bone graft appointment will likely involve additional treatments such as extraction, periodontal surgery, or a sinus lift. If not, the grafting procedure itself is typically a swift process similar to an extraction appointment.

What Happens Before Dental Bone Graft Placement?

Before placing the bone graft, your dentist will conduct an oral examination to assess the health of your teeth, gums, and jaw. Dental X-rays or scans will be done to evaluate the degree of bone loss. Subsequently, your dentist will engage in a discussion with you regarding your treatment options and develop a tailored treatment plan to address your specific needs.

What Happens During Dental Bone Graft Surgery?

Initially, your dental provider will administer local anesthesia to numb the area. Then, they will make a small incision in your gums, gently moving the gum tissue to expose the jawbone. After sterilizing the area, your dentist will apply bone grafting material to address the defect. Often, a membrane is placed over the bone graft for added protection. Lastly, the gum tissue is repositioned, and the incision is closed with stitches.

What Happens After a Dental Bone Graft?

After undergoing a dental bone graft, you may experience pain, swelling, and bruising, which are typical side effects that usually subside within a few days. Pain relievers can help manage these symptoms. Additionally, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, which should be taken according to the specified instructions.

You may observe small bone fragments, like grains of salt or sand, coming out of the site in the first few days after the procedure; don’t worry too much. It’s common. Just give your dentist a call to double-check that everything is healing as it should.

Is Getting a Bone Graft Painful?

During the procedure, you won’t feel pain because your dentist will numb the area beforehand with a local anesthetic. This numbing effect typically lasts for a few hours. However, you might need over-the-counter pain relievers afterward.

Recovery from a dental bone graft is similar to what you’d experience after a tooth extraction. Since the gum tissue is opened and the bone exposed (then stitched back), you may feel some sensitivity, tenderness, or minor swelling for a few days.

What to Expect During Recovery?

It’s important to follow your dentist’s home care instructions diligently. They’re not just recommendations! Adhering to them closely can make your recovery smoother. Some of the guidelines you might receive include:

What Are the Risks or Complications of Dental Bone Grafts?

Bone grafts are typically safe procedures, but they do come with some risks, such as:

How long does a dental bone graft last?

Although you may start feeling normal within a week or two, complete healing of a dental bone graft can take between three and nine months, sometimes even longer. The duration of recovery varies depending on factors such as the type of graft, the location of the graft site, and your body’s healing abilities.

Can Bone Grafts Fail?

Yes, dental bone grafts can fail, especially if the surgical site becomes infected or if the body rejects the graft for any reason. Your dentist can usually determine within a few months whether the graft was successful by examining X-rays of the area and assessing bone density.

Cost Of Dental Bone Grafts

The cost of a dental bone graft varies depending on factors such as the type of grafting material used and the complexity of the procedure (whether it’s surgical, simple, after an extraction, etc.). Certain materials may be more readily available or more accessible to place, resulting in lower fees. For instance, a graft where the bone is taken from your hip and used for facial reconstruction by an oral surgeon tends to be much more expensive than a simple bone graft performed immediately after tooth extraction.

Dental Bone Graft TypeTypical Cost
Allografts$300 to $1,200
Alloplastic$300 to $1,200
Autografts$2,000 to $3,000
Xenografts$300 to $1,200

Depending on your location and the type of graft material used by your dentist, the cost of dental bone grafting typically ranges from $300 to $1,200. However, specific bone grafts may cost as much as $3,000.

Additional Expenses:

It’s important to note that these figures do not include additional fees such as:

If you’re budgeting for a $3,000 dental implant, these extra expenses, along with the bone graft, can easily add $1,200 to your treatment plan. Additionally, if you opt for oral surgery under sedation, expect to pay a few hundred dollars more on top of the itemized fees. If you lack dental insurance, consider obtaining a dental savings plan to help reduce the overall cost.

Key Takeaway

Dental bone grafts are performed to address tooth loss and gum disease and to ensure sufficient bone support for dental implants, thereby preventing long-term health issues.

While generally safe, this procedure carries some risks and potential complications. Adhering to post-operative instructions provided by your doctor can minimize these risks and promote good dental health in the future.

At BK Dental in Scarborough, Toronto, our skilled surgeons oversee the entire process from start to finish. Although bone grafting and dental implant procedures require time, the outcome is highly rewarding! Contact us today to discover more about our services.