Bone Grafting Procedures


If you have missing teeth, it’s not just a cosmetic issue. It can also lead to bone loss at the site of the gaps. This can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. You may experience oral facial pain, problems with your remaining teeth, altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and/or eat normally.

In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone and stimulate it through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the part that anchors the teeth into the mouth no longer receives the necessary stimulation it needs and begins to break down. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates. This often leads to a condition in which there is not enough bone suitable for the placement of dental implants. In these situations, most patients are not candidates for dental implant placement surgery.

However, with bone grafting, we now have the opportunity to not only replace bone where it is missing, but also the ability to promote new bone growth in that location. This not only gives us the opportunity to place dental implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore both functionality and aesthetic appearance.

After tooth extraction, if the walls of the socket are very thick, they will usually fill naturally with bone in two to three months. However, when the walls of your socket are very thin (such as in your front teeth), this type of healing will not be as predictable. In these situations, a bone graft is often placed at the time of tooth extraction to help your body fill in the empty socket with bone. This step will maintain the width and volume of bone you will need for your dental implant surgery several months later.


Bone grafting can repair dental implant surgery sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, periodontal issues (gum disease), sinus deficiencies, or injuries. The grafted bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or your own bone is taken from the jaw, hip, or tibia (below the knee). These procedures are routinely performed in an operating room and require a hospital stay. In addition, special membranes may be utilized that dissolve under the gum to protect the bone graft, as well as encourage bone regeneration. This is called guided bone regeneration or guided tissue regeneration




Autogenous bone grafts, also known as autografts, are made from bone taken from somewhere else in your own body. This type of graft is advantageous in that it is your own living bone. It contains living cellular elements that enhance bone growth, which helps eliminate the risk of your body rejecting the bone grafting material. However, one downside to the autograft is that it requires a second procedure to harvest material from elsewhere in the body.

Other types of bone grafting include allogenic (bone harvested from a cadaver) and xenogenic (bone of another species, usually a cow). Both allogenic and xenogenic bone grafting have an advantage of not requiring a second procedure to harvest your own bone. However, because these options lack the autograft’s bone-forming properties, regeneration may take longer and have a less predictable outcome.


The key to successful and long-lasting dental implants is the quality and quantity of jaw bone to which the dental implant will be attached. If bone loss has occurred, there are several procedures to help rebuild the site to accommodate the dental implant process.

A Sinus Lift is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw. The procedure seeks to grow bone in the floor of the maxillary sinus—above the bony ridge of the gum line which anchors the teeth in the upper jaw. Most commonly, a small incision is made on the premolar or molar region to expose the jaw bone. A small opening is cut into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from other sources. After the bone is implanted, the incision is sutured and the healing process begins.

Ridge Augmentation helps recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket. It is often done immediately after the tooth is removed to avoid the need for a second procedure later. Next, the gum tissue is placed over the socket and secured with sutures.

In socket preservation, the tooth is removed and the socket is filled with bone or bone substitute. It is then covered with gum, artificial membrane, or tissue, which encourages your body’s natural ability to repair the socket. With this method, the socket heals, eliminating shrinkage and collapse of the surrounding gum and facial tissues. The newly formed bone in the socket also provides a foundation for an implant to replace the tooth.


Drs. Buck and Phillips are experts in dental implants. If you’re considering tooth replacement, please give us a call at 205-933-1331 to schedule your consultation. Located right here in the Birmingham area, we’re here to help you improve both your oral health and well being. Make time to call us today. We love our patients!