The best way to treat a ridge deficiency is to prevent it from occurring. The deficiency may have been caused by trauma, developmental defects, periodontal disease, wearing dentures, lack of site preservation (bone grafting) at the time of an extraction, or a combination of these factors.
The amount of bone loss from an extraction can be minimized by performing site preservation at the time the tooth is removed. After a tooth is lost, the jawbone begins to shrink, with the most rapid shrinkage occurring in the first year following extraction. Up to 60% of the original width and 40% of the height of the bone can be lost during this period. This loss of bone often leaves a condition of poor quality and quantity of bone, which is inadequate for placement of dental implants, bridges or dentures.
For example, when a bridge is placed, ridge deficiency or concavity prevents the artificial tooth from looking real (it looks like it is just lying on the gum). By repairing the ridge defect with a ridge augmentation, the artificial tooth now looks like it is growing out of the gum and cannot be distinguished from your natural teeth.
In many cases, ridge augmentation procedures can be used to grow bone where needed. Ridge augmentation procedures have been shown to greatly enhance the cleansability, function and appearance of your restorations.
- Soft tissue ridge augmentation is performed to enhance the cleansability and esthetics of a deficient site prior to its final restoration. During this procedure a soft tissue graft is obtained either from a suitable site in your mouth and/or a soft tissue substitute is inserted and sutured into place.
- Hard tissue ridge augmentation is performed to recreate adequate bone dimension that has been lost. The hard tissue augmentation can also be done in combination with a soft tissue augmentation to simultaneously enhance the soft tissue profile of the deficient site. After the incision is made, the bone graft material (graft particles or block graft) is placed to build up the ridge. A membrane and/or titanium mesh may be utilized to contain the bone graft and promote strong bone formation. Depending on defect size, an average bone healing and maturation time of 6-12 months is allowed before dental restorations (dental implants, bridge and dentures) can be placed. In some cases the implant can be placed at the same appointment as the hard tissue ridge augmentation.
After the ridge augmentation procedure, antibiotics and analgesic medication are prescribed and post-operative care instructions are reviewed both verbally and in writing. Following the post-operative care instructions is critical for success and for a positive experience. Limiting physical activity for two to three days will also promote healing and minimize bleeding. A temporary removable or fixed bridge may be fabricated by your general dentist to be utilized during your recovery phase. After an adequate healing period, your bone graft will be strong enough to support a dental restoration such as dental implants, bridges or dentures.
Bone Grafting and Ridge Preservation Benefits
These procedures offer many advantages to patients who suffer from loss of dental bone:
- Bone grafting helps to secure and stabilize the jawbone for future surgery or to protect existing at-risk teeth, correct deformities, or restructure the bone for functional reinforcement.
- Ridge preservation prevents the loss of bone in circumstances where bone normally recedes, such as following tooth extraction.