Of all the options available for replacing a missing tooth, a dental implant has the highest success rate. The tooth restoration is highly effective, durable, and long-lasting. This article explains the use of dental implants to restore the smile after losing a tooth.A dental implant can solve some of the problems that usually come with…
Dental Ridge Preservation and Dental Implants
Dental implants need solid support from the jaw. This means that the jawbone needs to have the mass, density, and shape to hold an implant in place. Does that mean that patients with less than perfect jawbones are excluded from getting dental implants? Not exactly.
Dentists use workarounds for jawbones with slight bone loss. This is where procedures like socket grafts or dental ridge preservation come into play.
Dental ridge preservation as preparation for dental implants
The alveolar ridge is the crest or peak of the jawbone. This bony ridge sits right below the gum, where it houses (surrounds) the tooth sockets. The ridge of a healthy jaw should be tall enough to provide solid support to a dental implant.
However, tooth loss, gum disease, or injury can result in the loss of bone mass on the dental ridge. The bone loss changes the shape of the jaw and the gums. For the person who wears artificial teeth, the bone looks like a gap between the gums and the base of the artificial teeth.
Dental ridge preservation corrects this aesthetic shortcoming. From an oral health standpoint, the procedure restores the jawbone and allows for the installation of dental implants.
The process of alveolar ridge preservation
Dental ridge preservation improves the shape and bone density of the jaw, providing a solid structure for dental implants. The treatment involves adding graft material to the jaw, which restores the height of the dental ridge. Like dental implant surgery, alveolar ridge preservation requires a custom treatment plan that meets the individual’s needs. The following description details the treatment in broad strokes.
1. Opening of the gums
This step will be skipped if the ridge augmentation procedure will be combined with a tooth extraction. Otherwise, the oral surgeon will administer anesthesia and make a small incision in the gums to expose the tooth socket.
2. Placement of graft material
With the tooth socket in sight, the surgeon will place graft material, usually bone granules, in the tooth socket. They may go on to cover the socket with a flesh-like or protein membrane. This membrane acts as a filler that restores the height and width of the target section of the dental ridge.
3. Closing the gums
With everything in place, the oral surgeon will close the gums and send the patient home to recover. Recovery involves the fusion of the grafted bone with the jaw.
Ridge splitting or ridge expansion
The previous section describes the restoration of a single socket, though the procedure can be expanded to restore multiple tooth sockets. However, patients that suffer a fair amount of bone loss are candidates for a more aggressive form of ridge preservation.
For this version of the treatment, the oral surgeon opens the gums, splits the dental ridge open, and packs it with bone graft material. They go on to place soft-tissue graft material over the jaw before suturing the gums shut. The oral surgeon may place a platelet-rich substance that stimulates healing inside the gums.
The procedure can happen under local, IV, or general anesthesia, depending on the extent of the surgery. Patients who suffer anxiety are also candidates for sedation dentistry.
Learn how dental implants can help you achieve a great smile
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