Aftercare for bone grafts and sinus lifts

About bone grafts and sinus lifts

Having a bone graft or sinus lift is sometimes necessary before having dental implant treatment if you don’t have much natural bone in your jaw. Both treatments create bone volume, which is needed to hold implants in place.

To make sure the site of your bone graft or sinus lift heals successfully, we’ve put together the following aftercare advice.

Here are some key do’s and don’ts while your bone graft or sinus lift is healing:

You should:

  • Try to only eat soft foods for at least a week following the treatment
  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Keep your mouth as clean as possible
  • Rinse your mouth with recommended mouthwash at least three or four times a day, 24 hours after treatment (your dentist will give you a recommendation)
  • Take any antibiotics you’ve been prescribed
  • Take over-the-counter pain relief, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, if you need to ease any pain

You shouldn't:

  • Eat hot food and drinks for the first 24 hours
  • Use straws or suck on anything, such as an e-cigarette
  • Blow your nose if you’ve had a sinus lift
  • Brush the site of the graft for a few days- you can carefully brush your other teeth
  • Do any strenuous exercise – you can do gentle exercise but take it easy
  • Touch the site of the graft with your tongue or fingers
  • Drink alcohol or smoke for at least two weeks, as these can slow down the healing process
  • Wear any dentures that cover the affected area

On the day of your procedure

Minor bone grafts and sinus lifts are usually carried out at your local practice under local anaesthetic. If this is the case, you’ll be able to go home straight after the procedure. If you’ve had a more extensive bone graft or sinus lift carried out in hospital, and you’ve had a general anaesthetic, you’ll need a few hours to recover and then someone will need to drive you home.

You might have some discomfort once the anaesthetic has worn off. You should be able to manage this with over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Your dentist may have also prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection, and it’s important to take them.

You should be able to return to work, and generally your normal routine, the day after the procedure.

For the first day, avoid any hot drinks or hot food. When drinking, try not to ‘swill’ the liquid over the affected area and don’t use a straw. This helps to preserve the blood clot around the graft and will help with healing.

It’s normal to experience some bleeding following the procedure. If you experience any excess bleeding, place some gauze over the area and bite down for 30 minutes. If the bleeding won’t stop, get in touch with your dentist for further advice.

The first week after surgery

It’s normal to have some swelling and bruising in the area around the site of the bone graft in the first 72 hours. This is perfectly normal and can be minimised by applying a small ice pack to the area for 10 minutes every hour.

Try and keep your mouth as clean as possible but avoid brushing over the affected area. Your dentist may have also recommended a mouthwash which you can use three or four times a day to help keep the area clean.

You should stick to soft food like yoghurt, soup and porridge for the first week after treatment. After seven days, you’ll be able to go back to your usual diet, but try not to put too much pressure on the site of the affected area.

During the healing period

If you’ve had any stitches, your dentist will schedule an appointment with you to have them removed about seven to 10 days after your bone graft or sinus lift.

You’ll then need to wait for the area to completely heal and fuse with your jawbone before you have your implant placed. This varies from person to person but is usually between three and nine months.

You’ll need to attend regular check-ups with your dentist to make sure the area is healing well. Your dentist will usually recommend you see a hygienist regularly too, to help keep your mouth as clean as possible.

When you should contact your dentist

Very occasionally, there may be complications with a bone graft or sinus lift following the procedure. Get in touch with your implant dentist if you experience:

  • Bleeding that won’t stop after 30 minutes, even after biting down on a damp gauze
  • Throbbing pain on the day of your surgery
  • Pain or swelling around the area more than 10 days after surgery
  • Numbness around the area more than 12 hours after the operation

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your dentist as soon as possible for further advice.

Get in touch with your local practice

If you have questions about bone grafts, sinus lifts or other dental concerns, get in touch with your local practice.

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Find out more

Follow the links below for more detailed information on bone grafts and dental implants, plus aftercare advice for dental implants.

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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.

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