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, 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.
Why Should I Have Ridge Augmentation?
Ridge augmentation isn’t usually a required procedure, but it has many benefits, including:
- Reduced chance of additional bone and tooth loss — You’d be surprised at how fast your jawbone begins to recede after you lose a tooth or have one extracted. Ridge augmentation can stem this and preserve the structure of your jawbone.
- Improved fit for dentures — Dentures fit around the alveolar ridge. They are meant to specifically to match the curve, and this helps them maintain the snug suction that keeps them in place. If your ridge is uneven or compromised by bone loss, your dentures won’t fit securely, and they may even begin to become painful to wear. Augmentation rebuilds the ridge and creates a strong base for dentures.
- Better stability for implants — At Clear Lake Dental we place many implants and have almost unparalleled success rates with them. But they need strong, healthy jawbone mass for stability. If your alveolar ridge has begun to recede, this makes it more likely that any dental implants placed into it could fail. Ridge augmentation restores the adequate jawbone mass needed for anchoring implants.
- Improved appearance — You don’t think of this, but your alveolar ridges form the framework for your smile. If one ridge is uneven, due to bone loss, your smile can be crooked. Your bite can be impacted, as well. Ridge augmentation evens the two sides and improves your smile.
What are the Risks Involved with Ridge Augmentation?
These procedures at Clear Lake have high success rates, but they are oral surgery and carry some risks. As with all oral surgeries, there is the risk of excessive bleeding and infection, but these are generally low. Specific to ridge augmentation, these are the risks:
- Allergic reaction to the grafting material
- Rejection of the graft by the body
- Bone resorption
- Abnormal bone growth or development
- Nerve damage
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 gum line.
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.
What Should I Expect Immediately After My Ridge Augmentation?
These procedures are performed in our Webster offices. You’ll be under local anesthesia and may have sedation, as well. After your procedure you’ll return home, and you’ll really need to take it easy at first. You’ll need to keep the gauze pads in place over the surgical areas for 30 to 60 minutes. You may have some slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in your saliva, but don’t spit it out aggressively as this can stimulate more bleeding. The most important thing initially is to ensure that the blood clot stays in place where we entered the gums. From there, the above recovery is what you can expect.
How Long is the Recovery After Ridge Augmentation?
For the first two to three days after your ridge augmentation it’s important to really lay low, rest, and avoid any strenuous activities. You need to keep the blood pressure from elevating in your facial area. By following this path, you’ll minimize any residual bleeding and will lessen subsequent bruising and swelling. It’s important to use ice to help with swelling and pain. Anti-inflammatory medication will help to minimize any inflammation.
To keep the blood clot in place where we accessed your jawbone, it’s important to not spit or use a straw for the first 24 to 48 hours. You’ll need to eat a soft diet for several days, and you will still want to avoid the side with your augmentation. Spicy, crunchy, or hard foods are a bad idea for a few weeks.
The full effect of the bone grafting will take between six and nine months. At that point, your jaw will be ready for dental implant placement.
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.