What is a ridge augmentation?
A ridge augmentation is a common dental procedure often performed following a tooth extraction. This procedure helps recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss from a tooth extraction, or for another reason.
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 breaks and is unable to heal on its own. The previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge is not always 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 placing bone graft material in the tooth socket. It is often done immediately after the tooth is removed to avoid the need for a second procedure later. Next, the gum tissue is placed over the socket and secured with sutures. Dr. Hehr may choose to use a space-maintaining product over the top of the graft to facilitate new bone growth. Once the socket has healed, the alveolar ridge can be prepared for dental implant placement.