What is a ridge augmentation?
A ridge augmentation is a common dental procedure often performed to correct bone loss (resorption of the jaw) following tooth extraction or other damaging events. This is done to help recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw.
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. This empty socket will heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue, but because the tooth is no longer present the volume of the bone diminishes at the site to varying degrees. Sometimes when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks, and it heals with a large dip in the jaw bone, dramatically changing previous height and width of the socket dimension.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge is not medically necessary, 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 a ridge augmentation accomplished?
A ridge augmentation is accomplished by Dr. Nehring or Dr. Terry lifting the gum tissue and gaining access to the jaw at the deficient area, preparing the site to receive the bone graft material, placing the graft at the site, and covering the graft with a barrier membrane to keep the soft tissues from interfering with ideal healing. Occasionally, fixation devices will be placed to hold the membrane firmly in place during healing. Once the graft has healed, the alveolar ridge can be prepared for dental implant placement.
A ridge augmentation procedure is typically performed in Drs. Nehring or Terry’s office under local anesthesia. Some patients may also request the addition of IV sedative medication.