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Bone Grafting: Rebuilding Your Jawbone

Over time, the jawbone where teeth are missing can deteriorate or shrink. This happens because the body doesn’t need the bone to support the teeth anymore. This shrinkage makes it difficult to place dental implants.

But there’s a solution! A procedure called bone grafting can help replace the missing bone. This lets us place implants and provides a strong foundation for a natural-looking smile.

Not everyone getting implants or a full arch will need a bone graft. During your consultation at our Salt Lake City office, we’ll discuss whether you need this procedure and any other questions you may have.

Types Of Bone Grafting

Bone grafting can address jawbones that lack sufficient strength for implants due to missing teeth, gum disease, or injuries.

The type used depends on the amount of bone loss and the specific location in your jaw. Our oral surgeons consider several factors when choosing a bone graft type.

Using your own bone (autograft is often the preferred choice, as your body readily accepts bone from another part of yourself. It’s considered the strongest option for new bone growth, because the bone cells and growth factors are most compatible with your jawbone.

Bone is typically taken from your chin, jaw angle, or the area behind your wisdom teeth. In some cases, bone may be harvested from your hip or shinbone.

Using donated bone (allograft) is a good option if using your own bone isn’t ideal, perhaps because there’s not enough bone available at the donor site in your jaw, or if you have certain medical conditions.

The bone comes from a tissue bank and is carefully screened and processed to ensure safety. Allograft bone is a viable and effective choice for bone grafting procedures.

Special membranes may also be used during bone grafting. These membranes dissolve under your gums and protect the new bone as it grows. Think of it as a tiny scaffold or greenhouse for your jawbone! This process is known as guided bone regeneration.

Sinus Augmentations

If you’re missing teeth in your upper jaw, then you may need a sinus lift.

There are hallow spaces behind your cheeks and above your upper teeth. Those are your maxillary sinuses. Normally, there’s a thick wall of bone separating them from your mouth.

If teeth have been missing for some time, then that bone may be too thin or weak to support dental implants or a full arch replacement. That’s where a sinus lift comes in.

A sinus lift is a special bone grafting procedure done to create more bone in your upper jaw. Thanks to sinus lifts, many people who previously couldn’t get implants can now enjoy the benefits of these long-lasting tooth replacements.

What About Ridge Augmentations?

The bone that holds your teeth in place is called the alveolar ridge. When a tooth is removed, the socket it leaves behind usually heals on its own. But sometimes, the bone breaks down and doesn’t heal properly. This can cause the jawbone to shrink and lose its shape.

Dental implants are like tiny screws that replace tooth roots. They need a strong foundation of bone to hold them in place. If your jawbone has shrunk after a tooth removal, it might not be strong enough for an implant. A ridge augmentation is a procedure that rebuilds the height and width of your jawbone after tooth loss. Our oral surgeons place bone grafting material in the empty socket. This material can come from your own body, a donor, or even special synthetic material.

By rebuilding your jawbone, a ridge augmentation allows for the placement of dental implants.

Ridge augmentations can be done immediately after tooth extractions or before implant or arch placements.

Causes Of Jawbone Loss

Your jawbone is important for chewing, biting, and even speaking. But just like other bones, it can weaken and shrink over time. Here’s a breakdown of the most common reasons why this happens and what you can do about it:

Missing Teeth

Teeth act like tiny anchors for your jawbone. When a tooth is pulled and not replaced, the bone doesn’t get the stimulation it needs to stay strong. This can cause the bone to shrink, especially in the first year after the tooth is gone.

Gum Disease

Plaque, the sticky film on your teeth, can turn into a bigger problem if not cleaned properly. This can lead to gum disease, an infection that eats away at the gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. If left untreated, gum disease can make your teeth loose and even fall out.

Dentures and Bridges

These replacements for missing teeth can help you chew and smile again. But traditional dentures don’t provide any stimulation to the jawbone, which can cause it to shrink over time. Bridges can also cause some bone loss in the area where the teeth are missing.


A blow to the face or a broken jaw can damage the bone and stop it from getting the stimulation it needs. This can lead to bone loss in the injured area.

Bone loss in the jaw is a slow process. However, if someone has experienced these issues for years, then they may need a bone graft for their dental implant or full arch restoration to be successful.

However, the only way to determine if you need a bone graft is during your consultation with one of our Salt Lake City oral surgeons.

Schedule Your Consultation

Jawbone loss can happen for a few reasons, and it can make getting dental implants tricky. But the good news is, there’s a fix! Bone grafting is a procedure that rebuilds and strengthens your jawbone, creating a solid foundation for implants and giving you back a smile that looks and feels natural.

During your consultation at our office in Salt Lake City, our friendly team will chat with you about your unique situation and let you know if a bone graft is needed to make your dental implant dreams a reality.

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about implants or bone grafting, so you can feel confident about your smile journey. Schedule your consultation today and take the first step towards a stronger, healthier smile!

Meet Our Oral Surgeons

Dr. Nathan Adams, MD, DMD, FACS

Dr. Adams is a board-certified oral & maxillofacial surgeon who received his surgical training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Adams has interests in sleep apnea, oral pathology, orthognathic surgery (correcting jaw deformities), facial trauma, dental implants, bone grafting, and office-based anesthesia.

Dr. Michael Gladwell, MD, DMD, FACS

Dr. Gladwell is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon with training from the Mayo Clinic. He holds degrees in health administration and dentistry and is a member of several professional associations. Dr. Gladwell offers a full range of oral and maxillofacial surgery services, including wisdom tooth removal, implants, and surgery for sleep apnea and facial trauma.