Bone Graft Aftercare Information

A bone graft is a procedure that helps to preserve and reconstruct the bone in your lower or upper jaws in preparation for a dental implant. When you have bone loss in your jaw, your doctor will first need to reconstruct the area in order to support the new dental implant.

After you’ve had a bone graft surgery, you’ll want to take care of the area to ensure the graft has the highest rate of success. 

We want to make sure your bone graft heals and the process is as pleasant as possible. Following your doctor’s instructions will help achieve a successful result.

Please follow all instructions provided by your doctor after surgery. The following are general guidelines and your specific care procedures may vary.

The Day of Your Surgery

Immediately after your surgery, you should avoid touching the wound area and keep the gauze pad on the wound as instructed by your doctor. This will help the area begin to form a clot, the first part of the healing process.

If you were prescribed any medications or instructed to take any over the counter medications, you can begin taking them at your doctor’s direction. You can also apply a cold compress: Ice packs or cold bags of ice wrapped in a towel in 15-minute increments can help reduce pain and inflammation. 

No two surgeries are exactly alike, so your doctor may provide you with additional information. It’s important to follow these instructions and if you have additional questions about your specific aftercare, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Post Surgery:

The first few days after your bone graft surgery, you’ll want to follow some of these general guidelines:

  • Avoid mouth rinses and avoid spitting for the first 48 hours or two days.
  • Since the grafting material is not yet stable and needs to “set” it’s very important to not apply pressure with your fingers or tongue. This can cause the material in the graft to shift or heal improperly. 
  • Avoid smoking for at least two weeks.
  • Don’t pull back on your lip or cheeks to check out the sutures. This can pull your wound open, tear your sutures, or disrupt the graft.

Some common things you may experience post-surgery:

  • Temporary numbness of the lip, chin, tongue, or neighboring areas.
  • Sore throat or pain when swallowing can be caused by swollen muscles.
  • Stiffness in your jaw and surrounding area for a few days. 
  • Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes, and face is normal. This swelling might not appear right away but should begin to subside after the first few days.

Bone Graft Surgery Pain Management

If the doctor prescribed any pain medication to you, you should follow their direct instructions.

You can usually begin to take your pain medication as soon as your local anesthetic wears off. It’s important to have transportation arranged while taking any pain medicine as you may become drowsy and be unfit to operate a vehicle. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages while taking any prescribed pain medications.

You may also be given a list of over the counter pain medication to take after your prescription is complete. This can vary from patient to patient, so please ask your doctor what they recommend. Pain and discomfort should begin to subside more each day, but if it continues or worsens as days continue, you should call our office.

Diet following Bone Graft Surgery

A few things to consider regarding your diet post-surgery include having foods and beverages ready before your surgery, so you have a supply of friendly post-surgery food ready. These include soft and cold foods such as pudding, applesauce, jello, yogurt, milkshakes, etc. These are also great at soothing an uncomfortable area in your mouth.

You’ll probably have a limited intake of foods for the first few days, and you’ll want to also make sure you’re increasing your fluids during this time. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is important not only during this period, but it is helpful all the time! Carbonated and sugary beverages should also be avoided during the healing process.

You’ll also want to avoid hot foods and avoid using straws while drinking. The sucking motion while using a straw creates pressure on the surgical wound and can dislodge sutures or even the bone graft. 

How long will my sutures be in my mouth post-surgery?

Sutures aren’t always present after every bone graft surgery. If you do have sutures they will either be removed during a follow-up visit with your doctor, or they’ll dissolve on their own which can take anywhere from 10 days to a few weeks.

Continue to Brush Your Teeth

You should resume routine brushing after your soft tissue graft, but just take extra care to not brush over the surgery area. Avoid brushing or flossing in the area of the graft until your doctor tells you to. This will allow the area to heal properly while maintaining proper oral hygiene.

You can brush your teeth gently around the area of the bone graft, but do not use an electric toothbrush, WaterPik, or Sonicare type toothbrush during the healing process. The movement and vibration from these toothbrushes can damage the graft and disrupt the healing process.

Ask your doctor about mouth rinses and what you should use to keep your mouth clean after surgery.

When you should contact your doctor:

Swelling, pain and bleeding should begin to go away day-by-day after your surgery. If your pain worsens, the swelling continues to remain or grows, or you begin to experience other unusual symptoms such as nausea, fever, or excessive bleeding from the surgery site, you should call our office for instructions. 

The most important thing to remember is that there are no two surgeries that are the same. The advice on this page may be altered by the doctor for your specific situation. It’s always best to discuss everything with your doctor directly to ensure you’re getting the best information for your specific situation.