Minor bone grafting

Bone grafting for dental implants

Minor bone grafting takes a small amount of bone from a 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 for a dental implant, you might have major bone grafting. This is when bone is taken from somewhere else in your body, such as your hip.

Having minor bone grafting

We can do minor bone grafting under a local anaesthetic. This is an injection to make the area of your mouth being treated numb and free from pain.

You might also have sedation. This is when we give you a medicine to help you relax and cope with your dental treatment.

Minor bone grafting usually takes 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.

  • We lift the gum away from the bone where you need treatment. We can then see the amount of bone that is needed.
  • We take a small amount of bone from another part of your jaw.
  • To do this, we lift the gum in this area and carefully drill into the bone.
  • We fix the bone graft in its new position with small pins or screws. These are removed when you have dental implant surgery.
  • We replace the gum and stitch it carefully back into place.
  • We remove the stitches about a week later.

After having minor bone grafting

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

We give you 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 have 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 we took or put in your bone graft for 1 week after treatment.

Use a mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine (for example, 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 minor bone grafting


The amount of pain 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 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 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]


Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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