Bone Grafting Complications

Bone graft failure:

Bone graft is required when there is insufficient bone to support dental implants. The specific technique and materials for  bone augmentation is based on the area of the mouth, the type of bone defect, and the treatment plan.  Bone graft failure can occur either during the healing phase or lost later due to  excessive resorption.

Bone graft failure may be caused by several factors:

  • Infection
  • Inappropriate materials
  • Improper technique
  • Health reasons

Solution: If the bone graft is still in place but compromised, it should be evaluated by an oral surgeon. Depending on its state, it might require some supportive therapy and observation or complete removal and debridement. If the graft is removed, the site should be allowed to heal for 2-3 months before another grafting procedure is done.

Bone graft infection:

Infection can compromise the health and success of the bone graft. It can be caused by poor surgical techniques or poor home care. The key is prevention by first using proper techniques and materials and also by following strict post operative instructions.

Solution: If the infection is mild, it might respond to antibiotic therapy. If it is more severe, the bone graft will probably require removal along with antibiotic therapy. Once the sites heal, a second grafting may be done.

Bone graft exposure:

Bone graft healing can be compromised if the overlying gum tissue recedes or breaks down. Once the bone graft is exposed, it loses blood supply and hence compromised.

Solution: If the exposure is small, it might respond well to supportive therapy such as rinsing, antibiotics, and soft diet. The gum tissue might gradually regenerate and cover the exposed part.  If the exposure is more significant, the supportive therapy may be complemented with conservative smoothing of the bone graft at the exposed site. In some circumstances, if the exposure is very severe and the graft appears to be mobile or infected, then it must be removed. The site can heal for 2-3 months and then a second grafting may be attempted.


Implant complication CTA