Major bone grafting

Bone grafting for dental implants

Major bone grafting takes bone from a part of your body and uses it in the area where you have a dental implant. The bone is usually taken from your hip. We use this type of bone graft if you need a larger amount of bone to rebuild your jaw.

If you only need a smaller amount of bone for a dental implant, you might have minor bone grafting. This is when bone is taken from another part of your jaw.

Having major bone grafting

We do major bone grafting while you are asleep under a general anaesthetic. You do not feel anything during the surgery. We give you more information on having a general anaesthetic.

If you need a major bone graft, you will have a short stay in hospital after your surgery.

  • We lift the gum away from the bone where you need treatment. We can then see how much bone is needed.
  • We take the amount of bone needed from your hip.
  • We carefully remove the bone in blocks.
  • We close the wound on your hip with stitches.
  • We usually put a small plastic tube (cannula) into the hip wound. We can then give you pain medicine.
  • During the surgery, we might also put a small drainage tube into the wound. This tube drains any blood that collects in your hip wound.
  • We fix the bone that has been removed from your hip in its new position in your jaw. This is done using screws.
  • When the bone graft is in place, we replace the gum and carefully stitch it back into place.
  • We remove the stitches 7 to 10 days later.

After having major bone grafting

When you leave hospital after having major bone grafting, it is important to follow our guidance to help your wounds heal.

  • You should be able to eat normally after treatment.
  • Your dentist might recommend a diet of soft foods.
  • Do not have alcohol for 24 hours after your treatment.
  • If you have dentures, you might not be able to wear them for up to 2 weeks after your treatment. Your dentist or nurse tells you if this is the case.

We recommend that you try to stop smoking before your treatment and in the long term.

For help to give up smoking, please speak to your nurse or call our stop smoking service on 020 7188 0995.

Returning to work

You can return to work about 1 week after your treatment. This depends on how much pain you have in your hip and how comfortable you find it to walk.

Keeping active

There should not be a big impact on how you move around. Try to move as soon as possible after surgery. We give you painkillers to make this easier.

You need to avoid any energetic activities, sport or exercise for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery.

Looking after your hip wound

It is important that you look after the wound on your hip. We explain how to do this and give you dressings to look after the wound at home.

We remove your stitches and check your wound about 10 days after the procedure.

Looking after your mouth

Do not brush the area where you had your bone graft for 1 week after treatment.

Use a mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine (such as Corsodyl®). This keeps the area free of plaque (a sticky layer of bacteria that builds up on the teeth). You can buy this mouthwash from a pharmacy or shop.

Hold the mouthwash in your mouth for 1 minute. Do this 2 times a day. Please follow the instructions on the label.

Side effects of major bone grafting


The amount of pain in your mouth and hip is different for everyone. If you have bone taken from your hip, you might feel discomfort for 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. This might be worse when walking.

Most people need painkillers. We give these to you during your hospital stay and when you leave hospital.

Your dental team can give you more information on painkillers and when to take them. It is important to follow their instructions and the advice in the information leaflet that comes with your painkillers.

Swelling and bruising

Some people have swelling and bruising on their face after bone grafting. To help with this, use ice packs on the area for 10 minutes each hour. Do this for the first 6 hours.

You can make an ice pack by wrapping a small bag of frozen vegetables in a clean cloth. Do not put ice directly onto your skin.

If you get any bleeding:

  • roll up a clean handkerchief and press it over the wound
  • hold it there by closing your teeth firmly together
  • do this for at least 30 minutes

Contact the dental implant department or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E) of hours if:

  • the bleeding does not stop
  • you have any pain in your stomach
  • you have swelling in your hip
  • you have a high temperature (fever)
  • you feel unwell

Follow-up appointments

We see you about a week after surgery to check the wounds on your hip and in your mouth.

We remove the stitches in your hip after about 10 days.

You then need another follow-up appointment to check that the bone graft has worked. We can also plan the next stage of your dental implant treatment. 

We make these appointments for you before you leave hospital or post them to you.

Resource number: 2844/VER5
Last reviewed: July 2021
Next review due: July 2024

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Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the dental implant department.

Phone: 020 7188 1816, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Email: [email protected]

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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