After a tooth is extracted or lost, the underlying bone will begin to deteriorate. The gums and jaw will eventually lose their natural shape. To prevent this from happening, we perform a dental procedure known as ridge augmentation. This procedure allows us to help reshape the gums and jaw. It gets its name from the part of the jawbone called the alveolar ridge, which surrounds the roots of your teeth.
When Do I Need Ridge Augmentation?
An empty socket in the alveolar ridge bone is left after the removal of a tooth. The socket will usually form a blood clot, fill up with tissue and bone, and then heal naturally. But sometimes complications can occur. For example, when a tooth is removed, the bone around the socket can break and prevent it from healing. If that happens, the socket will continue deteriorating.
It is not necessary for us to completely restore the natural height and width of the alveolar ridge, but we sometimes do so anyway to place dental implants (which require adequate bone mass) or to restore the aesthetics of your mouth as much as possible.
Ridge Augmentation Procedure
We will seek to insert the bone graft material into the tooth socket immediately after the tooth is extracted to prevent the need for additional surgeries later. Next, we will put the gum tissue over the socket and suture it shut.
If we select a grafting product that preserves the space on top of the graft, this can help restore the height and width of the space made by the lost tooth, where new bone is meant to grow.
We prepare the alveolar ridge for the implant post once the socket has completely healed. Ridge augmentation surgery is normally performed under anesthesia, and we’ll also employ extra sedatives if you need them.
You will need to rest and avoid strenuous activities after the surgery has finished. It is normal to see low to medium levels of discomfort, bruising, swelling and inflammation for a week or two after the procedure. Ice packs will help the swelling to go down, and anti-inflammatory medicine will keep these other side effects to a minimum.
Avoid using straws or smoking following the procedure, as you can cause the blood clot to become dislodged. We’ll also put you on a diet of soft food for about a week or so after the surgery. Spicy and hard foods should also be avoided as they can cause discomfort and possibly dislodge the blood clot. You can start eating other foods as your gums heal.
Length of Recovery
Patients often ask how long this period of recovery takes. The answer is that for most they will fell back to normal in about 2 weeks time. However, it will take between 6 to 9 months for the bone to heal completely. Once the healing process is complete, the new bone will have bonded with the alveolar ridge and become part of your body.
For more information, please contact our office at (631) 659-5599.