Bone Graft: The Solution When You Don’t Have Enough Bone for a Dental Implant

Dental Implants Gainesville, GA

Patients who have missing teeth may want to consider getting a dental implant. During the procedure, an oral surgeon replaces the roots of the natural teeth with metal posts that are screwed directly into the jawbone. The process is lengthy and requires several different procedures before all is said and done. One of the steps may be a bone graft to build up the jawbone.

Reasons why a dental implant is better than alternatives

People in need of implants generally have missing teeth. While these gaps may not seem like a concern at first, they may become a source of pain and embarrassment as time goes on. Depending on where the spaces are, a person may be self-conscious about public speaking, job interviews or social situations in general. A dentist may recommend a few options to rectify the problem, including the following:

  • Bridges
  • Dentures (full and partial)
  • Resin-bonded bridges

While these three options will help increase confidence, they come with a price. Since these are non-surgical fixes, they tend to move around and can slip at inopportune times. Food particles can become lodged underneath and cause pain and even infection.

A dental implant is meant to be a long-term permanent solution to replace missing teeth.

The problem with the jaw

The essential element of the implant procedure is securing the posts to the jaw. Through imaging, a dentist should be able to tell if there is enough bone to accommodate the post. However, images cannot show if the bone is too soft.

Implant failure occurs because of inadequate bone support. Dentists have to prepare patients for the possibility of a graft, which is a likely prospect.

The basics of a bone graft

When the jawbone needs some bolstering to properly hold the implant, the dentist may opt to build the area up with bone from another source inside the patient, usually from another area of the jaw or a hip. However, some dentists may opt to use artificial material to act as a bone graft without having to disrupt any other area of the body. The grafted bone is then bonded to the area where the implant will eventually go.

Waiting on the graft to take

A graft is typically done in advance of the dental implant being placed to allow the newly grafted bone time to fuse with the weaker area. Without time for this to occur, the bone may not be as stable as required by the implant procedure.

Possible side effects of a bone graft

At times, a bone graft may not grow as predicted. In these instances, a dentist may repeat the procedure with a manufactured element or another piece of bone. After the implant is placed, the bone may cease to grow over the post, making the area unstable. When the tooth gets loose, it is a sign that the jawbone is not supporting the implant and is considered a failure.


Getting a dental implant is a choice only the patient can make. Being informed about the options and the pros and cons of each is the best way to make an informed decision.

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