Can Bone Grafting Fail?

Posted on: August 4, 2019

If you are about to undergo a dental procedure that requires sufficient bone density in the jaw, your dentist may recommend bone grafting. Bone grafting is a procedure that builds up bone volume where the jaw may have deteriorated. Jawbone disintegration can happen for a variety of reasons, but bone grafting can help to rebuild what has been lost.

When is bone grafting used?

In dentistry, bone grafting is used to build up the jawbone when a loss has occurred. When a tooth is lost, the jawbone begins to shrink away due to disuse. Bone grafting is typically used to build up jawbone before a dental implant can be placed, as these prosthetic teeth need sufficient jawbone density in order to be successful.

When and why does bone grafting fail?

In most cases, bone grafting is successful. However, the outcome of bone grafting depends on a few factors. When it does fail, multiple bone grafts can usually be completed in order to attain the desired amount of jawbone density. Even after multiple attempts, bone grafting is not always right for everyone.

Healing time

One of the most common pitfalls we see is expecting there to be enough bone growth in too short of time. Bone grafting can take anywhere from four to six months. At six months, the dentist should be able to determine if the dental procedure (usually a dental implant surgery) can go ahead. Dental implants should not be placed anytime before six months.


Those who are advanced in age generally have less bone density than younger adults. Bone quality becomes less dense and more cellular later in life. As we age our bones typically regenerate slower, much like the rest of the tissue in our bodies. Healing is more difficult for those with advanced age, as well.

Overall health

Certain conditions, such as hypertension, radiation therapy and diabetes play a big role in bone grafting success. Lifestyle choices such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake can affect the outcome of a bone grafting procedure. Furthermore, those with osteoporosis will have a more difficult time building up bone tissue with a bone grafting procedure. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by insufficient bone regrowth where bone loss has happened.

Type of bone used

There are a few different types of bone used for bone grafting procedures in the jaw. Bone can be taken from a different place in the body, from a donor or from animal bone. Typically, bone taken from another part of the body tends to have more success than bone from a donor or animal bone. Often, synthetic bone is used for grafting, as well.

Location of graft

The place where the bone grafting occurs also determines the success of the procedure. Generally, the upper jaw has more bone density than the lower jaw, and therefore more success with bone grafting procedures. The health of the surrounding teeth and gums also plays a major role in the outcome.

Need bone grafting?

Call our office today to see if you are a candidate for successful bone grafting. Know that bone grafting is not always necessary before a dental implant procedure but may be needed for those who have lost enough bone in the area.

Request an appointment here: or call Portola Dental Group at (760) 201-4085 for an appointment in our Palm Desert office.

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