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Dental Bone Graft Recovery & Aftercare: What to Expect

At Rockcliffe Dental & Denture Centre, we often perform a bone grafting procedure prior to dental implant surgery in case there is insufficient quality or quantity of the jawbone.

The procedure is often required before the dental implant can be placed because chewing action exerts great pressure on the bone, – and, if the bone isn’t stable enough to support the implant, the implant treatment is likely to fail.

In this article, we are going to take a look at what you can expect from your dental bone graft recovery process.

Dental Bone Graft Recovery: What You Need to Know

Before we dive into how long the dental bone graft recovery process takes, it is important that you have a good understanding of what goes on during a bone grafting procedure.

When is Bone Graft Required?

When you lose a tooth, the bone underneath it starts to lose its density and volume if the missing tooth isn’t replaced with a dental implant quickly.

Generally, the roots of natural teeth support the bone and stimulate its growth. If a patient undergoes a dental implant procedure soon after the missing tooth is removed, then the bone under the tooth remains intact and a bone graft is not required.

On the other hand, bone grafts are common before a dental implant surgery in case the tooth was lost some time ago, and the significant bone loss makes it impossible for the jawbone to support the implant.

What is Needed for a Bone Graft?

Many people assume that bone grafting involves removing some bone material from one part of the mouth and placing it in the other part, where the implant will be positioned in the future.

However, dental bone grafting doesn’t always require human bone and can be performed using other materials, such as:

  • Human bone
  • Animal bone
  • Synthetic materials

Does the Bone Grafting Procedure Hurt?

You can expect little to no pain associated with bone grafting, as local anesthesia will be applied prior to the procedure. At Rockcliffe Dental & Denture Centre, we also offer a variety of dental sedation options to keep even the most anxious of our patients comfortable and relaxed.

Jaw Bone Graft Recovery Time

Overall, the recovery time can range from two weeks to two months. The exact length of the dental bone graft recovery period depends on a number of factors, such as the type of surgery, the person’s age, and their oral and overall health.

If a patient is getting ready for dental implant surgery, they will have to wait for the bone graft to fuse with the bones that are already in the mouth, which can take a few months. During this period, we ask our patients to come in several times for check-up appointments, so that Dr. Koniouchine can monitor the healing of the bone graft.

What to Expect After the Bone Grafting Procedure

While we are determined at making your bone grafting experience as comfortable as possible, it is still a true surgical procedure. This means that proper post-operative care is critical to the long-term success of the treatment and will help to minimize swelling, unnecessary pain, and the complications of infection during the dental bone graft recovery.

Immediately After the Surgery

Remember that each case is individual, and no two mouths are alike. However, there are some general must-follow guidelines for immediately after the surgery:

  • A gauze pad will be placed over the treated area to control minor bleeding. Make sure to keep it in place for 30 minutes.
  • Avoid vigorous rinsing or touching the wound area, as this may increase bleeding and cause the blood clot to dislodge.
  • As soon as the local anesthetic begins to wear off and you start feeling discomfort, take the prescribed pain medications.
  • Take a day off for the day of the surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable doing so.
    To minimize pain and swelling, you can keep ice packs on the side of your face where the treatment was performed.

If you have any questions about post-operative care and dental bone graft recovery, don’t hesitate to give us a call and discuss your concerns with Dr. Koniouchine.


Sutures may or may not be placed in the grafted area. They will either be removed by the surgeon during a follow-up visit or left to dissolve on their own (this can take up to 6 weeks).

Other Considerations

  • Dental Bone Graft Recover & Aftercare | Ottawa | Rockcliffe Dental & Denture CentreIt isn’t uncommon to experience temporary numbness of the tongue, lip, or cheek after the surgery. If it does occur, don’t worry, but give us a call to be on the safe side.
  • If you suddenly stand or sit up from a lying position, you may feel dizzy from pain medications. Make sure to sit up for at least a minute before standing up.
  • It isn’t unusual to experience a slight elevation in body temperature right after the surgery. You can take
  • Advil (Ibuprofen) to reduce the fever. If the temperature persists, however, please let us know.
  • If the corners of your mouth were stretched during the surgery, they may dry out and start cracking. Keep your lips moist with an ointment like Vaseline.
  • Sometimes, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue – these are bony walls, which used to support the tooth. These projections will usually smooth out with time.
  • Pain when swallowing and sore throats are not uncommon. As your muscles get swollen, the usual act of swallowing can become uncomfortable. This will go away in two to three days.
  • You may find it difficult to open your mouth due to the stiffness in jaw muscles. This is a normal post-operative effect that will subside in a few days.

Bone Graft Swelling

The expected amount of swelling around your mouth and cheeks is generally proportional to the complexity of the surgery performed, – this is your body’s normal reaction to the surgery and eventual repair.

  • Swelling may only appear one day after the surgery and will reach its maximum 2 to 3 days later.
  • However, it can be minimized by using ice packs in the first 48 hours postoperatively. Apply an ice pack to the side of your face where the surgery was performed continuously while you are awake for the first two days, but keep in mind that ice has no beneficial effect after the first 48 hours have passed.
  • If jaw stiffness and swelling persist for several days, don’t get concerned. It is a completely normal reaction. After the first 48 hours, you can start applying moist heat to the side of the face in order to reduce swelling.
  • The swelling and pain should subside more and more as time goes on after the surgery. If the swelling worsens or you experience unusual symptoms, call our office immediately.


Make sure to take any pain medication prescribed by your dentist exactly as directed.

  • Start taking pain medication 3 to 8 hours after the surgery, as soon as the local anesthetic starts to wear off.
  • Prescribed pain medication may slow down your reflexes and make you groggy. Make sure not to walk around machinery or drive a car during this time. In addition, avoid alcoholic beverages while taking the medication.
  • If some pain persists after the prescribed pain medication, you can take over-the-counter Ibuprofen pills, such as Advil or Motrin. Make sure not to exceed 600mg of Ibuprofen in 6 hours.
  • Pain medication may cause nausea, but it can effectively be minimized by eating a meal 30 minutes before taking your pain medication. If you still feel nauseated, you can try taking half of the prescribed dose more frequently. If you continue feeling nauseous or vomiting, please give us a call.
  • With every day, pain and discomfort after the surgery should become less noticeable. If pain persists, don’t hesitate to contact our dental office.


You will also be prescribed antibiotics to help prevent complications associated with infection.

  • Take the prescribed antibiotics exactly as directed and make sure to finish all of the medication. If you experience a rash or another unusual reaction to the antibiotic, discontinue it and give us a call.
  • Taking probiotic supplements or eating yogurt with live cultures will decrease your risk of stomach upset or yeast infection due to antibiotics.
  • If you are taking birth control pills, keep in mind that antibiotics can make them less effective.
    Nausea and Vomiting
  • If you experience nausea or vomiting due to medications, do not take anything by mouth for at least one hour. Sip slowly on tea, Coke, or ginger ale over a period of 15 minutes. When nausea subsides, eat some food half an hour before taking your antibiotics or pain medications.

Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene will help to prevent infection and ensure faster healing.

  • Brush your teeth gently around the surgical site.
  • Avoid using an electric toothbrush or water floss around the site, as it can be harmful during the healing stage.
  • Use chlorhexidine (Peridex) mouthwash 3 times a day. You can also use a saltwater rinse to speed up the healing process.


  • Your food intake will be limited right after the surgery, but it is crucial to continue to eat to have more strength, less discomfort, and heal faster.
  • Avoid using straws when drinking, as the sucking motion can dislodge the bone graft.
  • If you had an IV sedation, make sure to drink lots of liquids (at least 5 to 6 glasses) to prevent dehydration.
  • Consume cold foods and avoid hot ones until the bleeding stops. Yogurt, milkshakes, Jell-O, pudding, and apple sauce can feel comfortable and soothing to the treated area. As you feel able, you may transition to regular food, but avoid crunchy snacks like potato chips or popcorn until your gums have healed completely.
  • Your food intake will be reduced for the first couple of days. Make sure to compensate for this by increasing your fluid consumption. You may also eat soft foods by chewing on the side of your mouth that is opposite from the treatment area. Go for high protein, high-calory foods and don’t skip any meals.

Physical Activity

Reduce strenuous physical activity for 2 to 3 days after the surgery.

  • Avoid movements like bending, lifting, or running to minimize swelling.
  • Keep your head elevated when sleeping or resting.
  • After 2 to 3 days, you may resume your normal activity if you feel comfortable. Keep in mind that your normal nourishment intake will be reduced, so you may feel weak. If you get lightheaded, stop exercising right away.

Dentures and Other Prostheses

Full or partial dentures should not be used after the surgery until your follow-up appointment.

  • If you were given a temporary flipper replacement tooth to wear, do no place it until the numbness in the area subsides. When you do place it, make sure not to touch the gums in the surgical area, – if it does, it could lead to the breakdown of the sutures and ulceration of the wound edges. This, in turn, can lead to bone graft failure.
  • If you aren’t sure how to use your flipper or denture, do not wear it until your follow-up appointment.

Smooth Tooth Bone Graft Recovery is in Your Hands

Of course, the dental bone graft recovery process may seem like a difficult time, but don’t worry – it is less uncomfortable than it sounds. With proper aftercare and diligent adherence to all of your oral surgeon’s recommendations, you can avoid any complications and ensure a fast and smooth recovery process.

Stay positive and remember that successful dental bone graft recovery is taking you one step closer to your functional and beautiful dental implant restoration.

Are you wondering if dental implants are right for you? Give us a call to book a consultation appointment.

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