When a patient is missing a single tooth or multiple teeth, the jawbone around these areas will shrink in size (height and width) over time due to lack of stimulating forces from chewing. The longer the tooth or teeth have been absent, the more pronounced the bone shrinkage can become. When this occurs, there often is inadequate bulk of bone to support the placement of dental implants to replace the missing teeth. These patients will not be acceptable candidates for dental implant treatment unless the amount of bone in these areas is increased by grafting procedures. Your bone can be “bulked up”, so to speak, by grafting pieces of your own bone harvested from another area of your jaws or another part of your body. Other grafting options include using sterile cadaver bone from human donors, sterile bone from other mammal species, or chemically-engineered synthetic “bone substitutes” that are commercially available and work well in certain situations.