What to Expect after Your Bone Graft Surgery

Many patients require bone graft surgery prior to getting dental implants. This procedure replaces missing bone in the jaw and builds a solid foundation for the new replacement teeth.

Although bone grafting may sound serious, it’s a routine procedure that’s quick, minimally invasive and typically performed on an outpatient basis in our office. Once you get home, you can help minimize discomfort — and expedite the healing process — by following our basic aftercare instructions.

bone graft surgery

Managing Discomfort from Bone Graft Surgery

When you undergo a bone grafting procedure, as with any type of oral surgery, you will likely have some discomfort afterward. The good news is that, for most patients, the pain is no worse than with an ordinary tooth extraction.

Minor aching may persist for a few days, but prescription medication or over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help you manage the pain easily. Applying ice can also help you feel more comfortable after the procedure.

Minimizing Swelling After Bone Graft Surgery

Ice packs aren’t just for discomfort, though. Graft surgery procedures can cause facial swelling, which usually reaches its peak within the first two days, and gradually tapers off over the course of the next week.

To keep the swelling and inflammation down, our oral surgeons typically advise patients to apply ice at regular intervals for the first 48 hours. This helps restrict blood flow to your gum tissues, which minimizes bleeding and promotes proper healing.

Using ice packs in this way helps decrease the risk of graft or dental implant rejection.

Eating After Bone Graft Surgery

Although the types of foods you’ll be able to eat will depend on the complexity of your procedure, you will need to eat a modified diet for at least a few days after your bone grafting.

Some patients are restricted to a cold liquid diet for the first few of days. This means juices, milkshakes, smoothies, chilled blended soups and other cold beverages.

Other patients can eat room-temperature or tepid soft foods soon after the bone graft procedure. This includes pureed fruits, mashed potatoes, cooked cereal, yogurt, scrambled eggs and pudding. If a food requires any chewing, it’s best to avoid it for at least the first week after oral surgery.

You will also be asked to avoid eating any sharp, hard or crunchy foods for several weeks to ensure that nothing gets stuck in or around your graft site.

Sleeping and Activity Restrictions for Bone Graft Patients

Bone graft patients are typically advised to sleep on their backs, propped up with pillows, to prevent blood from pooling at the surgery site. Elevating the head keeps inflammation to a minimum, which expedites the recovery period. If you aren’t able to sleep on your back, at least avoid sleeping on the affected side of the face.

You will also have to avoid strenuous activity for the first few days following bone grafting. Exerting yourself too much can disturb the surgery site or cause your sutures to open. As you feel more comfortable, you can gradually return to your normal level of everyday activities.

The expert treatment team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah wants to give you the best chance for a quick and easy healing period after your oral surgery. Contact one of our three convenient Salt Lake City area offices today to schedule an appointment to ask any questions you may have about an upcoming bone graft surgery.