If you are considering getting a dental implant to replace a missing tooth or teeth, a ridge augmentation or otherwise known as ridge preservation may be required first. Having a ridge preservation procedure in order to get a dental implant can be a life-changing decision. Making your smile whole again (or for the first time) can improve several aspects of your life.
Before the introduction of ridge preservation, you would not be able to get a dental implant because the jawbone would be too compromised to be able to support it. Thanks to modern-day dental technology, ridge preservation has made it possible to rebuild that bone enough to be able to make dental implants a viable option.
What Is It?
Ridge preservation is a procedure that helps to reconstruct or preserve the natural shape of your jaw and gums. The shape and structure of the jaw may have been lost from certain oral conditions, trauma to the jaw or face, or from a tooth extraction. The base that the natural tooth roots are anchored into is a jawbone extension that is called your alveolar ridge.
With an unstable and deteriorated alveolar ridge, there is not enough bone for a dental implant to be secured into. Implants require the alveolar ridge to be an adequate height and width to successfully hold a dental implant in place without causing damage. Ridge preservation is a way to make the alveolar ridge whole and healthy again.
Who Needs A Ridge Augmentation?
When you lose a tooth, have a tooth extracted, or have a damaged tooth that you avoid placing pressure on, your body begins to reabsorb the bone material that lies underneath that tooth. This underlying bone deteriorates rather quickly, and around a fourth of the bone tissues that were present will be absorbed within a year from when the tooth was lost or pulled. You may need ridge preservation if you have waited too long after the extraction or tooth loss to get an implant done.
In other cases, the bone may already be thin around your tooth prior to losing it or having it extracted. Some individuals have a naturally weak outer wall of the alveolar ridge and may need ridge preservation for that reason. In addition, those who have suffered from alveolar bone loss due to gum disease, periodontal disease, jaw injury, or face injury may need ridge preservation to reconstitute the natural contours of the facial structure.
About The Procedure
The procedure to have ridge preservation is generally minimally invasive and painless. A local anesthetic is used to ensure that the areas that will be worked on are numb. A small incision is then made in your gum in order to gain access to the bone. Some sort of bone graft material is then attached to the exposed bone. Once that is finished, your gums are sutured to close up the tissue of your gum. There are special proteins and collagen that are infused into the bone material that will stimulate bone growth. Your new bone growth will eventually replace the graft material that is absorbed by the body.
Graft Material Options
The bone graft material can be made with a number of different methods. The bone can be a section of bone that comes from another part of your body. If this is the method used, local anesthesia and sedation will usually be used in order to obtain that piece of bone. Another option for bone graft material is bone of which has been harvested from a cadaver or another donor that is referred to as an allograft.
Another option utilized for bone graft material is called a xenograft which is bone taken from an animal, which would usually be a cow. The last type of bone graft material that can be used for ridge preservation is one that is synthetically produced bone graft that is made in a laboratory called alloplast. Any bone that has been harvested from an animal or another human is completely disinfected so that no bacteria or disease can be passed on to you upon the use of the bone graft.
Once the procedure is complete, you will get detailed instructions on how to care for the site until the new bone is regenerated. It can take the bone anywhere from a couple of weeks to nine months to grow and heal enough to be able to support the placement of dental implants. The amount of time this takes depends on the status of your existing bone and the extent of your bone graft. There are usually restrictions on eating certain foods during this time.
You may be provided with or recommended to use an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce the risk of developing an infection at the incision site. You may also be given a round of antibiotics to take as a precaution. You may experience postoperative pain and will be given medication to help alleviate it for the first week. After seven days the pain should be reduced dramatically or gone.