Much like a cement foundation of a house supports the rest of the house, healthy teeth are supported by bone. Bone loss is one of the most destructive and often irreversible issues that patients can face. Not only do the teeth lose support, but bone loss can also change the appearance of a patient’s face. If bone loss is not treated, it can cause tremendous damage, including:

  • Reducing the chance of successfully placing dental implants.
  • Shrinking of the bones (bone resorption).
  • Making dentures harder to fit.


Dr Chan pointing at screen talking to patient sf oral surgery

What Is Bone Grafting?

San Francisco patients can get bone grafts from a variety of locations. But for dental implants specifically, our surgeons at SF Oral Surgery may take bone from one part of the body and use it to replace bone that has been lost in the jaw or supporting structures below the teeth. Alternatively, artificial grafting and/or donor grafting may be used.

What Does Bone Grafting Do?

Dental implants are a terrific option for patients that have lost a tooth or multiple teeth. Not only do implants provide a solid support for chewing, smiling, and speaking, but they also prevent bone loss. However, some patients may not have enough supporting bone to hold the dental implant. In these cases, bone grafting can provide sufficient bone support for a dental implant. Bone grafts are critical for patients that need several teeth replaced or a full set of new teeth.

Some of the most common uses for bone grafts include:

  • Restoring bone that was lost due to decay, resorption, or trauma.
  • Increasing size of the bone ridge for dental implants.
  • Stopping progressive bone loss.


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How Surgeons Perform Bone Grafting

San Francisco patients that receive bone grafting may use bone from a donor site like the jaw. In some cases performing an additional surgery to harvest the donor’s bone is not possible. In these cases, an allograft can be used. An allograft is tissue from an organ donor. Synthetic material can also be used to fuse with the bone.

Dr. Chan, Dr. Rittenbach, and Dr. Yang each take the following steps to place the bone graft:

  • First, our surgeons make an incision in the gums to access the bone.
  • The surgeons then remove any debris or bacteria from the site.
  • Next, our surgeons will use the donor bone or synthetic material to restore the lost bone. The new bone will then begin to fuse with your existing bone during the healing process.
  • Our surgeons will finish the procedure by suturing the gums.

Of course, we have IV sedation (general anesthesia) available to make sure that our patients are always comfortable. Each of our oral surgeons at SF Oral Surgery is specially trained to provide anesthesia in a safe, comfortable manner.

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Recovering from Bone Grafting

San Francisco patients should expect the recovery process from bone grafting to take some time. The bone graft will require time to heal and integrate with the existing bone. Patients should avoid spitting, rinsing, or even touching the bone graft to make sure it heals and to avoid bleeding. We will provide all of our patients with detailed instructions on how to care for their bone grafts when they get home, including:

  • Icing the surgical site to prevent swelling or bruising.
  • Taking pain medications and antibiotics.
  • Avoiding exercise and strenuous activities for 3-4 days.
  • Patients can start rinsing and brushing their teeth the day after surgery.

Most importantly, patients should do their best to rest and relax the first week after the procedure. This will significantly speed up the initial healing process.

Eating While Healing from Bone Grafting

San Francisco has some of the best food in the world, but after a bone graft procedure, patients will need to eat a very specific diet. In fact, some of our patients may not have much of an appetite. However, patients should do their best to eat so they can heal and so they can take their medication.

Some foods to avoid include spicy foods, crunchy foods like chips, and foods that are very hot or cold. Instead, some of the foods that might be appealing to our patients after bone graft surgery include:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft pasta
  • Yogurt
  • Soup
  • Pudding


If you’d like to learn more about bone grafting or if you have any questions, make sure you call our San Francisco office today at (415) 776-6710.

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