What Is Ridge Augmentation?
Your jawbone needs the teeth that are anchored into it to remain healthy. When you bite and chew, a tremendous amount of force is created. This energy transfers down through your teeth into the jawbone beneath them, and it triggers a continual process of shedding old bone cells and replacing them with new bone growth. This is how your jawbone stays strong and healthy. When a tooth is missing the jawbone beneath that tooth no longer receives the stimulation from the tooth, and it immediately begins to deteriorate. This can cause the jawbone to recede, lowering the gums in that spot. This process will continue.
A ridge augmentation is basically a bone graft to rebuild the alveolar ridge in the location of the missing tooth. By rebuilding the bone beneath, the gums will return to their original height. Also, the new bone mass will provide the necessary anchoring space for a dental implant to replace your missing tooth.
Why Is Ridge Augmentation Needed?
The need for a ridge augmentation can either be proactive or reactive. If you have a tooth that needs extraction, whether due to a deep crack, extensive decay, or another reason, when Dr. Das, Dr. Darcey, or Dr. Pham remove the tooth we may opt to immediately place bone graft material into the socket of the removed tooth. This, in effect, is a proactive or preventative ridge augmentation, ensuring that the area retains its bone mass before it begins to deteriorate.
Or, if you’ve been missing a tooth for a period of time, it’s likely your jawbone has already deteriorated in that spot. In order to place a dental implant in the location of your extracted tooth, we’ll need to rebuild the alveolar ridge with a ridge augmentation. This will give you the necessary bone mass that can then support the dental implant base.
What Will Happen in Your Ridge Augmentation Procedure?
A ridge augmentation procedure uses very similar materials as a bone graft procedure. What happens when you lose a tooth is that the socket of the tooth is left vacant. If you have a socket that is vacant, you are putting yourself in danger of having infection take hold because food can get stuck inside of your empty socket. To fill the empty socket, our doctor or our amazing staff will use a bone substitute material to fill the socket and help even out your gumline.
Once the bone graft material is placed in the socket, the socket will need to be re-covered with the gum tissue to give your gumline a more natural look. Doing this will also allow for bone to continue to grow and make the ridge of your gums strong enough to have dental implants placed.
Is Ridge Augmentation Painful?
The procedure doesn’t involve any pain. Your recovery can involve some mild to moderate discomfort, but this can be mitigated by taking your anti-inflammatory medication and using ice packs to minimize swelling. The pain usually passes in a week or so.
The Next Step After Your Ridge Augmentation
After your ridge augmentation, you’ll need to replace your missing teeth with one of our fantastic options at Clear Lake Dental Care. Perhaps the healthiest way to replace teeth is through placing dental implants. The reason that dental implants are so healthy is because they will replace the roots of your teeth, which will ensure that the gum tissue and bone will not deteriorate.
If the teeth that you’ve lost are not replaced, there are numerous problems that can happen, perhaps the most noticeable being the change in your appearance. Your appearance will change because of the deterioration of the bone in your jaw. Your jaw will begin to shrink and you’ll end up having that very recognizable small lower jaw look common with people who have not replaced their lost teeth.
How Does Ridge Augmentation Compare with Bone Graft or a Sinus Lift?
Bone grafting is the goal of both a sinus lift and ridge augmentation. The location is the difference. With a sinus lift, the molars in the back of the upper jaw may not have enough supporting jawbone to support an implant. This can be due to jawbone deterioration from a missing tooth, or it can be congenital and the patient’s sinus cavity is simply too close to the roots of the teeth. To correct this, the jawbone is cut through to the sinus cavity, creating a flap of jawbone. This is pushed upward into the sinus cavity raising the sinus membrane and “lifting” the sinus. Bone grafting material is then placed in the bottom of the sinus cavity, below where the flap has been made, to add bone thickness in the area.
Ridge augmentation is done on other areas of the jaws where the sinus cavities don’t come into play. But, like a sinus lift, the goal is to use bone grafting material to rebuild jawbone mass.
Can Ridge Augmentation Be Combined With Other Procedures?
No, this is a stand-alone procedure.