How To Speed Up Bone Graft Healing

How To Speed Up Bone Graft Healing


Bone grafts are invasive surgical procedures that can take many months to heal, especially as they are in a particularly sensitive part of the body. 

In the following sections, we provide recommendations for healing bone grafts.

Read on to learn more about different solutions for this issue posed by modern medicine, natural remedies, and red light therapy devices as well.  


What Is Bone Grafting?

A bone graft is a surgical procedure that repairs or replaces parts of the jawbone after tooth extraction, jawbone loss due to periodontal disease, jawbone injury, or to provide extra support for dentures and dental implants.

A bone graft involves taking a piece of bone from another part of the body, usually the back of the jaw, hip, or tibia. When bone is taken from the patient, this is called an autogenous graft. 

Other bone graft sources can include human donor bones (allograft), animal bones (xenograft), or a synthetic material (alloplast).

Bone grafting is an important way to prevent deterioration of the jawbone due to tooth loss or injury.  


How Does Bone Grafting Work? 

Depending on the scope of the surgery, a dentist or a dental surgery specialist will administer either local anesthesia or sedation. 

First, an incision is made into the gums to expose the jawbone. The area is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly. Then, the new bone is placed where it’s needed and a membrane is added to protect the bone graft site before the incision is closed. 

The dentist may also add platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to the graft site. PRP is taken from the patient’s blood and is used to promote healing and tissue growth.

In essence, the new bone acts as scaffolding. The body then builds up tissue around it to support the teeth and prevent jawbone degradation.

After the bone graft, the patient will feel temporary pain, swelling, and tenderness while the area heals.

The overall healing process can take several months. To prevent delayed healing, it’s important to support the healing process.


How to Heal Faster from a Bone Grafting 

Several factors influence how fast a bone graft heals. These include the type of bone graft, the severity of the surgery, the area of the bone graft, the patient’s age, the patient’s oral health, and his or her overall health.

Most patients can resume normal activities within two weeks, but the process of integrating the new bone and growing or regenerating tissue around it can take 3-9 months.

The healing process is critical. Any infection or otherwise delayed healing can affect the teeth, jaw, and soft tissue around the site. 

In the case of a dental implant, the newly implanted tooth must become firmly rooted in the jaw. This requires the growth of healthy tissue and bone around the new tooth.

To ensure proper healing, we recommend following your dentist’s instructions. After-care instructions include good oral hygiene to prevent infection, taking prescribed medications such as antibiotics, and taking precautions with diet and activities.


How to Speed Up Healing

Use the following natural methods to support and speed up healing.

  • Rest. Your body needs rest so it can focus its healing resources on the bone graft site.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush to clean around the bone graft site. Do not brush the site directly. Do not use an electric toothbrush during this time to have better control of the brushing and to prevent vibrations, which could cause pain.
  • Sleep on your back. Even if you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need to lie on your back with your head slightly elevated during the healing process to reduce swelling and prevent putting pressure on the graft site. If you’re uncomfortable sleeping on your back, sleep on the opposite side of the bone graft.
  • Use ice to reduce swelling and pain. Apply an ice pack for 10-15 minutes and then take a break of several hours. Don’t use ice longer than that to prevent damage to the skin, and because ice can interfere with blood flow to the area.
  • You may wish to alternate ice and heat to speed up healing. An ice pack for 1 minute, followed by a heat pack for 2 minutes, and repeat for 10-15 minutes total.
  • Rinse with salt water to kill bacteria around the surgery site and reduce the risk of infection. Use one teaspoon of sea salt in one 8-oz glass of water. Rinse for half a minute, and spit it out. If the salt stings too much, you can reduce the salt concentration by half for the first few days. Continue the salt rinse until the gums have healed completely. Saltwater rinses are preferable to mouthwash that contains alcohol as alcohol can interfere with healing.
  • Stay active! While your body needs rest for healing, moderate physical activity will boost circulation. Avoid swimming until the site has healed to prevent infection. Public pools, while loaded with chemicals, are still a breeding ground for bacteria. Walking, easy cycling, and tai chi are great choices. Avoid strenuous training, and avoid activities like yoga poses where your head is below your heart. The additional blood flow to the head could cause throbbing pain.
  • Eat healthy.  A high-protein diet rich in micronutrients can include soft, nutritious foods like cooked vegetables, fish, and fruit.
  • Take supplements. Certain minerals and vitamins can boost healing of the bone and soft tissue. These include magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D.

Manage pain with cold therapy and/or over-the-counter pain relievers.


What To Avoid

  • Do not smoke because it interferes with healing and is a leading cause of periodontal disease and gum loss.
  • Strenuous exercise and exercises that place the head below the heart can elevate blood pressure around the graft and cause pain.
  • Do not eat sugary foods whenever you have a mouth injury. Bone grafts are no exception. Sugar is the preferred food of bacteria that can lead to infection. Avoid foods that can easily get stuck in your teeth or cause gum cuts, such as popcorn.

Above all, be patient and consistent with post-operative treatment. Your body needs time to heal!


Dental Healing with Red Light Therapy 

Red light therapy can also help speed up healing, reduce the risk of infection, and treat pain.

This natural remedy involves using an LED light therapy device to shine specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light onto the graft site. The light absorbs into the soft tissue and the bone itself to promote healing.


Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Bone Graft Healing

Red light therapy boosts mitochondrial performance to improve cell health and spark a ripple effect of healing.

The treatment also improves blood flow, reduces inflammation, and stimulates collagen production for faster healing of tissue.  

Near-infrared wavelengths can also absorb deep into the jawbone to stimulate bone growth in the graft area and kill bacteria in the mouth.

In many studies on wound healing, red light therapy has significantly accelerated the healing process.


How to Treat a Bone Graft with Red Light Therapy

Use a high-powered light therapy device that delivers red and infrared light to the area. Red light will stimulate gum growth and health, while infrared wavelengths will support bone growth and health.

The BIOMAX series panels feature a mix of therapeutic red and near-infrared wavelengths along with trace amounts of infrared and blue wavelengths. Blue light is used to kill bacteria on the surface to help wounds heal faster. 

These versatile panels have a multitude of uses: for example, you can treat a wound such as a bone graft while simultaneously turning back the clock on aging skin.

There are dozens of scientifically validated uses for red light therapy, including pain relief, oral health, skin health, muscle health, and nerve health. Find out more in the Learning Center.



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