As people grow past the age of 45, it becomes more common to expect a missing tooth or two in the following years to come. Whereas the ideal solution for these patients with tooth loss would be dentures, bridges, or implants, these solutions simply are not possible when the alveolar ridge has shrunk to a certain point. In this case, a ridge augmentation at Bruce Gopin, DDS, MS may be needed in order to ensure a perfect fit.
Why Ridge Augmentation?
The process of ridge augmentation helps to increase the volume of your alveolar ridge. This is a bony region underneath your teeth, which holds them up against the downward push from the gums. When your teeth fall out or get extracted, the alveolar ridge tends to decrease in size. This then shrinks everything, including the gumline, which gives you that sunken, toothless look in the long run. Other than changing the way you look, the alveolar ridge has one other important purpose: we prefer to place dental implants over the alveolar ridge, over your jawbones. Placing them through your jawbones, especially over your upper mandible, may need more than one procedure. This can increase the cost and may also require you to spend more time waiting for recovery.
How Ridge Augmentation Is Done
Ridge augmentation is done during a tooth extraction, in preparation for placing a denture or dental implant. After removing the tooth, we would cut open your gums and place a bone graft over your existing alveolar ridge. This serves to increase the height of your gum line by adding more volume to the bony layer below. We would then close the gums and wait for three to six months for your bones to fuse with the graft and heal before actually placing any implants.
Ridge Augmentation vs. Socket Graft
A common alternative to the ridge augmentation procedure is the socket graft. During this procedure, we would forego opening the gums and instead perform a bone graft to replace the tooth we have removed. This allows for faster recovery for an operation that is the most minimally invasive among all other dental bone grafting procedures. While a socket graft may appear to be better in terms of recovery, it is in no way better than a ridge augmentation in all cases. Socket grafting is only better when you have plenty of other teeth that support your alveolar ridge. A single socket graft will not be able to fix a receding gum line if you have lost many of your teeth. It can also become more costly if done too often. Meanwhile, ridge augmentation works best when you plan to place a bridge over a set of natural teeth or dentures. This allows us to keep more of your gums raised compared to a socket graft which can only do a small portion at a time. However, there is no better judge as to which procedure is better than you and the one who looks at your teeth.
If you visit us at Bruce Gopin, DDS, MS or call us at 915-213-3455 to schedule an appointment, we can tell you which procedure can help you get the most out of your dental implants.