Why Is Ridge Augmentation Important?
Your alveolar ridge is an extension of your jawbone that forms the base into which the roots of natural teeth are fixed. When a tooth falls out, is extracted, or is so badly damaged that you avoid putting pressure on it, the bone material underlying that tooth begins to be "resorbed" into your body. That means your alveolar ridge (in that area) will shrink and no longer be of sufficient height and/or width to support a dental implant.
With a healthy ridge, you may even be able to get your dental implants done "express" in a single sitting. But if you need a bone graft, it may take months and two separate surgeries to complete your implants.
As soon as a tooth is lost, the underlying bone begins to deteriorate. Within 12 months, 25% or so of the bone tissue will be resorbed. Within 36 months, 40% to 60% will likely be gone. That is why it is best to get implants soon after an extraction if possible. But if bone was already thin around your tooth before it was extracted, you may still need ridge augmentation. Many times, the "buccal wall" of the ridge (facing outward toward the cheek) is weak and must be augmented. Not only is ridge augmentation important to make way for dental implants, but it also helps to restore the natural contours of your facial structure that may have been affected by alveolar bone loss.
How Is Ridge Augmentation Surgery Performed?
Ridge preservation or augmentation surgery is accomplished by filling in the empty socket left by a missing tooth additional bone-graft material. The socket itself would fill in and heal on its own, but would also lose bone height/width. The surgery prevents or reverses that deterioration. The bone-graft material can be from a cadaver donor (an "allograft"), from animal sources (a "xenograft"), or synthetically manufactured (an "alloplast.")
Gum tissue will then be placed over the grafted-in bone and sutured into place. A "barrier membrane" may also be used to create a space into which the grafted bone mass will grow, ensuring it re-attains its former height or width.
barrier membranes are for vertical growth, but some are horizontally placed. If horizontal, it is commonly on the buccal side (facing the cheeks) since that bone must be at least 2 mm thick before an implant can be received.
The healing process may take several months or even up to a year. The time required varies from person to person, and certain factors like smoking or having diabetes can slow down the rate at which bone heals and regenerates.
When a tooth is extracted or lost due to gum disease or another cause, your alveolar ridge will begin to deteriorate. Correcting that problem with ridge augmentation/preservation will allow for dental implants and improve the aesthetics of you smile. To learn more about ridge preservation or augmentation, in Ormond Beach, FL, contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik for an initial consultation.