What to Expect When You Have a Bone Graft and Dental Implant Done on a Narrow Ridge on Your Jaw

The bone surrounding a tooth deteriorates after the tooth has been removed. In time, a narrow ridge develops between the removed tooth and the surrounding healthy teeth. If you want to have a dental implant put into the gap, a bone graft will have to be done to expand the ridge so the implant can be anchored to the bone. If you are having a bone graft done between two healthy teeth for an implant, here is what you should expect.


The dentist will numb the area where the bone graft surgery will be performed. The most common local anesthetic that is used is lidocaine, and it will numb your mouth for roughly an hour and a half to two hours – long enough to do the bone graft and stitch your gums back up.


The dentist will create a flap in your gums so they can see and get down to the existing bone in the gap between your teeth. The incision will cut along the bottom of one tooth, over the top of the narrow ridge, and down along the bottom of the second tooth. The gums will then be separated to expose the existing bone.

Implant Anchor

A hole will be drilled through the top of the existing bone to insert the anchor for the implant. The drilling will cause openings on the side of the bone to appear because it has deteriorated so much. The bone graft will cover these openings as new the new bone grows over it. The anchor will be screwed through the top of the hole created by the drill and down into whatever is left of the existing bone.

Bone Graft

Crushed down bone material, usually taken from a cadaver (the body of a dead person who has donated their body for these and other types of dental and medical procedures) or an animal like a horse or cow, will be packed in around the anchor and the existing bone. The crushed bone will have been sterilized prior to arriving at the dentist's office to avoid any transfer of diseases from the crushed bone to you. A membrane will be placed over the crushed bone to keep it from moving around. The dentist will then close and stitch the flap shut.

Healing Time

Your mouth will be sore for up to a couple of weeks after the surgery. Your dentist may prescribe a painkiller to help you handle any pain and discomfort. Once the new bone grows in around the anchor, which can take anywhere from a few months to a year depending on your particular situation, the dentist will attach the implant to the anchor.

For more information about what you can expect when getting dental implants, talk to a dentist like those at Alliance Family Dental.