Ridge augmentation is a procedure performed following tooth extraction to help recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that has been lost following tooth extraction or for other reasons.
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 collapses, or is lost, and is unable to heal on its own. The original height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate as the socket heals.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge may be required for dental implant placement or for aesthetic purposes. Dental implants require bone to support their structure, and ridge augmentation can rebuild this bone to accommodate the implant.
This is a technique used to restore lost bone when the jaw ridge is too thin to place dental implants. In this procedure, the bony ridge is expanded. Bone graft material may be placed within the expanded ridge. An implant will be placed either then or after the expanded, grafted area matures.
Another technique more often used is an onlay, or veneer, bone graft. In this instance, the area of inadequate jaw bone is exposed, prepared and measured. Bone is taken from the patient's lower jaw or hip, fashioned to fit precisely into the prepared site, and secured in place with mini-screws. The graft is allowed to mature for several months before placing a dental implant.