020 3745 7455 | Book Online

Bone Grafts in Dentistry: An Insight from Wimpole Street Dental Clinic

Whether you’re exploring dental implants or have been recommended a bone graft procedure, understanding the intricacies of dental bone grafting can be challenging. At Wimpole Street Dental Clinic, we’re committed to providing clarity on this complex topic. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on what a dental bone graft is, why it’s essential, and how it contributes to the success of restorative dental treatments.

What is a bone graft?

A bone graft is a surgical procedure that enhances the quantity and quality of bone in an area of the mouth. It involves transplanting bone tissue to an area that has suffered bone loss. The transplanted bone can be harvested from the patient’s own body (autograft), from a donor (allograft), made synthetically, or sourced from animals (xenograft).

Why might you need a bone graft?

Tooth Extractions:

When a tooth is extracted, it leaves behind a hollow socket. Over time, the bone that once held the tooth in place may shrink in volume and density. This phenomenon, known as bone resorption, may cause the surrounding teeth to shift, leading to bite problems and altering the appearance of your smile. A bone graft placed in the socket immediately after extraction can help maintain the bone volume, making it easier to place a dental implant in the future.

Periodontal disease:

Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection that can destroy the gum tissue and the supporting bone structure. As the disease progresses, pockets deepen, and more gum tissue and bone are lost. When severe, this can result in loose teeth or even tooth loss. Bone grafting can help regenerate the lost bone, improve the stability of teeth, and restore your dental health.

Dental implants:

Dental implants require sufficient bone to hold them in place. However, if you’ve experienced bone loss due to tooth extraction, periodontal disease, or trauma, there may not be enough bone to support an implant. Bone grafting can enhance the bone’s volume and density, providing the necessary support for a dental implant. This can improve the implant’s success rate and longevity 

Facial trauma:

Facial injuries involving the jawbone can lead to significant bone loss. Whether the injury results from an accident or surgery to remove a tumour, it may leave the jawbone weakened or deformed. Bone grafting can help restore the jawbone to its original form and function, enhancing both the structural stability and the aesthetic appearance of the face.

Bone grafting: the procedure explained.

Step 1: Comprehensive evaluation

The first step of the bone grafting procedure begins long before the actual surgery, with a thorough evaluation of your dental and overall health. We at Wimpole Street Dental Clinic take into account your medical history, current dental health, and specific needs to ensure you are an ideal candidate for the procedure. Radiographic imaging, such as CT scans, may be used to assess the bone’s density and volume, and a personalised treatment plan is crafted for each patient.

Step 2: Preparing the site.

The second step involves the actual day of surgery. After administering local anaesthesia to numb the area, our dental surgeon will make a small incision in your gum to access the bone underneath. The preparation of the site is done with the utmost care to minimise discomfort and avoid damaging existing structures. This step ensures that the bone graft will be positioned accurately for optimal results.

Step 3: Placing the bone graft.

The next stage is placing the bone graft. The grafting material, whether autograft, allograft, xenograft or synthetic, is meticulously placed on the prepared site. The material acts as a scaffold that your body will eventually replace with its own bone. This step is crucial and demands a high level of skill and precision to ensure the graft integrates well with your existing bone.

Step 4: Securing the graft.

After the bone graft is placed, it must be secured to ensure it stays in position while healing. This may involve using special membranes, sutures, or even titanium screws. The aim is to protect the graft, encourage regeneration of your own bone, and prevent the intrusion of bacteria and unwanted tissue into the graft site.

Step 5: Post-operative care

The final step is the post-operative phase. This is equally as important as the surgery itself. Once the incision is closed, your recovery process begins. There may be some swelling or discomfort initially, but this can be managed with prescribed medication. Proper oral hygiene and adherence to post-operative instructions, such as avoiding strenuous activity and following a soft food diet, are essential for smooth healing.

What to expect after a bone grafting procedure?

After the procedure, you may experience mild discomfort, but it can be managed with prescribed pain relievers. It’s important to follow a soft food diet and maintain good oral hygiene to aid recovery. The bone graft will eventually fuse with your existing bone in a process called osseointegration, which can take several months.

Bone grafts and dental implants – the connection

Dental implants are the gold standard for replacing missing teeth. However, they require a sufficient amount of healthy bone for support. If the jawbone isn’t thick or tall enough, a bone graft can create a more robust platform for the implant. By performing a bone graft, we can increase the success and longevity of dental implants, thereby enhancing the overall oral health of our patients.

Your dental health matters.

At Wimpole Street Dental Clinic, we believe in educating our patients about the various dental procedures that could benefit them. Understanding what a bone graft is and its importance in restorative dentistry, particularly concerning dental implants, is crucial. Our team is dedicated to providing superior care, leveraging the latest advancements in dental health to restore your smile. Whether you’re considering dental implants or have been suggested a bone graft, we’re here to guide you through every step of your dental journey


Created: 31/7/2023

Clinically reviewed by: Prof Dr Christian Mehl

Written by: Dr Raul Costa

Dr Raul Costa

About the author:

Dr Raul Costa is a restorative dentist with a unique set of skills for dental aesthetics and a drive for ultra-conservative techniques. He qualified from the Lisbon Dental School in 2005 and has been practicing in London since 2008. He works with world-renowned ceramists in order to deliver natural-looking, life-like, crowns and veneers. He is also particularly talented and experienced with composite bondings and implant-supported restorations.