Minor bone grafting

Bone grafting for dental implants

Minor bone grafting takes a small amount of bone from one part of your jaw. This is used in the area where you have a dental implant. We usually take the bone from the back of your jaw, or your chin.

If you need a larger amount of bone to have a dental implant, you might need major bone grafting. This is when bone is taken from somewhere else in your body, such as your hip.

Having minor bone grafting

Minor bone grafting can be done under local anaesthetic. This is an injection to numb the area of your mouth being treated. It can help with any pain.

You may also have sedation. This is when you are given a medicine to help you relax and cope with your dental treatment.

Minor bone grafting usually takes 60 to 90 minutes.

  • The gum is lifted away from the bone where treatment is needed. This is so the dentist can see the amount of bone that is needed.
  • A small amount of bone is then taken from another part of your jaw.
  • To do this, your dentist lifts the gum in this area and carefully drills into the bone.
  • The bone graft is fixed in its new position with small pins or screws. These are removed when you have dental implant surgery.
  • The gum is replaced and stitched carefully back into place.
  • The stitches are removed about a week later.

After having minor bone grafting

If you had minor bone grafting under local anaesthetic, you can leave hospital when the procedure has finished and you feel well enough.

You are given a course of antibiotics to lower the risk of an infection.

  • 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.
  • You can return to work 1 or 2 days after your treatment.
  • If you wear dentures, you might not be able to wear them for up to 2 weeks after 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.

Looking after your mouth

Do not brush the areas where your bone graft was taken from or inserted for 1 week after treatment.

Use a mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine (for example, Corsodyl®) to keep the area free of plaque. You can buy this 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.

Symptoms after minor bone grafting


The level of discomfort is different for each person.

Most people need painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can buy them at a pharmacy or shop.

It is best to take painkillers before the local anaesthetic wears off and for the first day after treatment.

Your dental team can give you more information on taking painkillers and when to have 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 facial swelling and bruising after a bone graft. 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

If the bleeding does not stop, go to your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Follow-up appointments

You need a 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 this appointment for you before you leave hospital or post it 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]

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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