Ridge augmentation is a common dental procedure often performed following a tooth extraction to help recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss as a result of the extraction. 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 usually heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue. However, sometimes, when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks and it’s unable to heal on its own. As a result, the previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge may be necessary for dental implant placement, which requires bone to support the implant. The ridge augmentation procedure helps rebuild the bone to accommodate the implant.
What’s involved in the ridge augmentation procedure?
The ridge augmentation procedure begins with administration of a local anesthetic. An additional form of sedation dentistry may be used if the patient prefers.
After the area has been numbed, your surgeon will make a small incision in your gum to allow access to the bone. Depending on the type of ridge augmentation procedure you’re having performed, your oral surgeon will either place soft gum tissue or hard bone tissue. Soft tissue ridge augmentations are typically done to address cosmetic issues.
Patients who need to have a dental implant placed will typically have a hard tissue graft. The grafting material can be human (your own or a donor, known as allograft) or synthetic material (alloplast). Once the graft is properly positioned, the area will be stitched shut. As soon as the bone has gained sufficient height and width, the patient will be ready to have a dental implant placed.
What is the recovery process following ridge augmentation?
As with any other procedure, the recovery process following ridge augmentation surgery varies from patient to patient. It can take as short as a few weeks or as long as four months for the bone to finish growing and healing. Because there’s such variance in the recovery process, it’s important to discuss what your own recovery plan will be with your oral surgeon prior to having the procedure performed.
Immediately following your ridge augmentation surgery, you’ll need to stick to a soft food diet, slowly reintroducing harder foods as the healing progresses. It’s also important to avoid smoking or using straws for the first week or two following the procedure in order to refrain from creating unnecessary pressure.
Once you’ve completed the recovery process, it won’t be necessary to follow special aftercare instructions. Just continue practicing good daily oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing at least twice daily. Also, be sure to schedule regular visits to your dentist to ensure your teeth receive regular professional cleanings.