What is a Ridge Augmentation?
A ridge augmentation is a common oral surgical procedure often performed following tooth loss to help recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss as a result of a tooth extraction, or for another reason.
The alveolar ridge of the jaw is the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth. When a tooth is removed, an empty socket is left in the alveolar ridge bone. Usually this empty socket will heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue. Sometimes when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks, and it unable to heal on its own. In other cases, the bone had already been lost due to infection or gum disease. The previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate over time, regardless of the initial healing following extraction.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge is not medically necessary and sometimes not possible, but may be required for dental implant placement, or for aesthetic purposes. Dental implants require bone to support their structure and a ridge augmentation can help rebuild this bone to accommodate the implant.
How is the Oral Surgery Accomplished?
A ridge augmentation usually involves harvesting a block of bone from another site in the jaws and securing it at the graft site with titanium screws. Particulate bone from the jaws, or from a cadaver, or a graft substitute may be used to fill in areas around the block. Typically a resorbable membrane will also be used. Most membranes are of bovine origin. There are numerous potential variations and options for bone grafting, depending on the patient’s needs. Occasionally, use of a bio-engineered growth factor may be recommended.
A ridge augmentation procedure is typically performed in the office under I.V. sedation anesthesia. Some patients may request local anesthesia only.