Dental Bone Grafts

3D render of placing bone tissue for a dental bone graft

“The words ‘bone graft’ seem to instill fear into dental patients,” says Dr. Adrienne Hedrick, “but a bone graft is one of the easiest and most simple dental procedures.” In fact, Dr. Hedrick has performed hundreds of them and typically does at least one per week. If you would like to learn more about why they’re necessary in dentistry, then this post is for you.

What Is Bone Grafting?

Bone grafting, also known as bone augmentation, is a surgical procedure that uses transplanted bone to replace missing or damaged bone in your body. Many different types of doctors can perform bone grafts, and dentists are the ones who often replace bone in your mouth.

Most people assume that a bone graft involves placing a hard bone in your mouth, but it can be procured from elsewhere with varying degrees of density. If the source of the bone is soft, your body, over time, will naturally harden it.

What Are Dental Bone Grafts Made From?

At Longmont Dental Loft, we use bone grafts made from either a combination of cadaver and cow bone or lab-grown bone. But there are many different sources, with four of the most common explained below:

  • Autografts: Uses bone from your own body, such as the hip, tibia, or jaw
  • Allografts: Involves bone sourced from another human, often a cadaver
  • Xenografts: Incorporates bone from another mammal, such as a cow or pig
  • Alloplasts: Uses synthetic materials, such as calcium phosphate or calcium sodium phosphosilicate

When is Bone Augmentation Needed in Dentistry?

Bone grafts are typically needed before you get a dental implant or after a tooth is extracted.

Dental Implants

If you’re getting a dental implant, you’ll also likely get a bone graft because it provides needed support. The bone graft is performed first, and you’ll need to wait 3 to 4 months for it to heal before getting the implant.

Teeth Extraction

A tooth extraction leaves behind a hole where the root previously was. Without a bone graft to fill it, the soft tissue around the hole won’t heal properly, bone loss will occur, and you run the risk of developing periodontal disease.

What Are the Different Types of Bone Graft Procedures?

Longmont Dental Loft performs socket grafts and sinus bumps, but there are other types of procedures too.

Socket Grafts

The most common bone graft is a socket graft, which fills the socket, or hole, due to an extracted tooth. A socket graft uses bone tissue, which will eventually heal into a solid mass of bone.

Sinus Bumps

A sinus bump is similar to a sinus lift but is less invasive. If an implant is needed for your upper jaw, a sinus bump adds more bone to prevent the implant from penetrating the sinus. It also allows the implant to be placed immediately without waiting for your gum tissue to heal.

Block Grafts

More involved than a socket graft, a block graft may be recommended if you’re missing more than a few teeth.

Ridge Augmentations

A ridge augmentation bone graft fills in ridges that can occur from injury, defects, or severe periodontal disease.

Bony Pockets

This procedure regenerates any bony areas around your teeth.

Is it Painful?

Although the thought of having a bone graft sounds painful, it really isn’t. Your dentist will administer novocaine to numb the targeted area, and you likely won’t require many — if any — surgical incisions because the procedure mostly involves filling an area with bone tissue.

What Is the Healing Process Like?

After your bone graft is complete, your dentist will protect the area with a collagen membrane, which acts as a band-aid. After 7 to10 days, they’ll remove the sutures but leave the collagen membrane in place to continue to protect the area. The membrane will dissolve on its own in over a month.

If you’re scheduled to get an implant 3 to 4 months later, your dentist may take a 3D image of your mouth by using a CBCT to ensure the bone has healed properly first.


If you’re experiencing any kind of bone loss (missing teeth or advanced periodontitis are just two frequent causes), you’ll need a bone graft to prevent further damage. A common procedure with minimal discomfort, bone grafts have high success rates, helping to enhance both the function and aesthetic appearance of your mouth. If you think you might need one, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your dentist.