What is a dental bone graft? And how much does this procedure cost?

Peter March

Written by Peter March DDS, Peter Dégallier RDH, Nichole McKenna DDS, Richard Hattaway DDS, Greg Grobmyer DDS

A dental bone graft is a procedure that aims to augment the density and volume of the jawbone. It is a preparatory one, which enables the dentist to mount restorations. Grafting does, however, come with larger costs and a longer treatment period.

If you are planning dental implants or an extraction, you might need grafting. Different materials can be used depending on the patient's circumstances. Have a look at what the procedure looks like, the costs, and what the possible complications include.

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When are teeth bone grafts necessary?

Multiple dental implants in jaw

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

A close look at the dental bone graft cost

Eric Moryoussef

Eric Moryoussef, DDS

You are going to invest a lot of money towards a dental implant. It makes sense to do everything possible to make sure the implant is successful. Bone grafts can do so.

The bone grafting procedure is one of the most common additional costs when it comes to getting dental implants.

Dental bone grafting materials

Dental bone graft procedure

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

There are four types of grafting materials:

  • autograft: from the patient’s own body, the most popular places are from the chin or leg,
  • allograft: from a human donor, often from a licensed bone and tissue bank,
  • xenograft: from animal bone, usually from horses,
  • alloplast: from a non-biological material, typically a form of metal or plastic.

Which is ultimately chosen is decided by the dentist performing the dental bone graft procedures. It depends on the situation in your mouth as well as on what resources are available.

Peter March

Peter March, DDS

It is important to review the type of bone graft with the patients as they may have safety concerns or ethical or religious reasons for rejecting allografts or xenografts.

Dental bone grafting step-by-step

If an autogenous graft is used, it will likely be done by a specialist, not a general dentist, and will require general anesthesia, not just local injection. Generally, the dental bone grafting procedure can be split up into five stages.

The first step is always a thorough medical history check and composition of a treatment plan. You and your dentist will discuss what material is to be used for the graft. Then, it’s time for action.

Your dentist will first source the bone if it is determined that it should come from your body. The graft itself should not cause any more discomfort than pulling a tooth.

The tooth is then removed, providing an extraction was scheduled.

When the grafted bone is in place, the surgeon will stitch up the wound and possibly apply a bandage. The hole will be closed up with pins, plates, wires, or cables. Sometimes a titanium screw or splint is necessary to hold the tissue together.

If the bone was sourced from your body, that area will be sewn back together as well.

What to expect after dental bone graft

Dental bone graft recovery is mild. You are likely to be able to return home the same day. Somebody might have to drive you, depending on whether you had general anesthesia.

Overall, you will need about 4-6 months of dental bone grafting healing time in total. The material and the jaw need time to merge and grow. This period might be even longer, especially if you have a history of substance addictions or an oral condition. It also depends on the site of bone sourcing, if it came from your body.

Richard Hattaway

Richard Hattaway, DDS

Autografts from the chin can be a very uncomfortable recovery.

Signs of dental bone graft failure

FAQ

Including the extraction, the whole procedure can take as little as 45 minutes. It might last longer if you go with a more complex type of anesthesia or if biological membranes need to be placed.

A bone graft for a dental implant is not always compulsory, only in the presence of bone loss. Nonetheless, studies show that more than half of implant placement procedures are preceded by grafting.

A bone graft for a tooth implant makes the volume of the jaw larger, making the base more stable. The rod can be inserted deeper, making failure less likely.

A tooth extraction bone graft is performed when the removal caused a lot of damage. This could be due to the fact that the tooth itself was big. It is also recommended if the roots were twisted in a way that occupied much jaw volume.

Yes, it is possible. But in this case, bone grafting is necessary to increase bone volume. This creates a stable base for the implant. If your jaw is too thin or brittle, your implant is more likely to fail. The dentist will make the final decision about whether you are a candidate.

There is not much dental bone graft pain after the procedure except a little soreness in the gums. Dentists often compare the recovery to what you feel like after a tooth extraction.

No doctor will perform bone grafting without proper sedation, however. Sometimes a local injection or laughing gas is enough. This is dependent on the size of the graft, the location, and whether you are going to be harvesting an autograft. If you suffer from dental anxiety, you might have a stronger form of anesthesia.

Dental bone grafting complications are mainly all about infections and nerve damage. The latter happens very rarely. The side effects may include loss of feeling in the mouth and a lack of a sense of taste.

An infection after dental bone graft is usually caused by the patient not following proper post-op instructions. Since the procedure is surgical, excellent oral hygiene is a must. Extra visits to the dentists are advised for people who struggle with this as well as smokers. If you feel dental bone graft stitches coming out, a consultation is key. This may be accompanied by draining, swelling, and bleeding.

References

  1. Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments - NIDCR
  2. Bone Grafts For Implant Dentistry: The Basics - ResearchGate
  3. Frequency of bone graft in implant surgery - NCBI
  4. Bone-grafting materials in implant dentistry - PubMed
  5. Alveolar Ridge Augmentation: Comparison of Two Socket Graft Materials in Implant Cases - ResearchGate
  6. Bone grafts in dentistry - NCBI
  7. Bone Grafting: Sourcing, Timing, Strategies, and Alternatives - JOT
  8. Nutritional Aspects of Bone Health and Fracture Healing - NCBI