Ridge augmentation is a common procedure performed to help recreate the natural contour of the gums. Often, after a tooth is removed, the bone in the jaw will begin to deteriorate and recede. The height and width of the socket, which was supported by the tooth, will begin to shrink after the tooth is removed. Many patients will eventually develop an indentation in the gums or jawbone where the tooth used to be.
Restoring the original height and width of the socket is not usually medically necessary. However, it may be necessary in order to place a dental implant or for aesthetic purposes. If a person's bone has deteriorated too much, placing a dental implant may not be possible.
There are two types of Ridge Augmentation procedures: Soft Tissue and Hard Tissue. Occasionally, both types of ridge augmentation are performed at once.
Soft tissue grafts are usually done to improve the esthetics and strength of the gums. Prior to the procedure, the area will be numbed. An incision is made to expose the site and a soft tissue graft is then obtained either from the palate (roof of the mouth) or a soft tissue substitute. The graft is then inserted into the area receiving the graft, which is then secured with stitches.
Hard tissue grafts are done to recreate adequate bone contour prior to dental implant placement. Prior to the procedure, the area will be numbed. An incision is made and the gum lifted away to expose the bone defect. A bone graft obtained either from another site within the mouth or cadaver bone is placed in the area receiving the graft and secured. The area is then closed with stitches.
Healing time varies by patient and the size of the area repaired but usually lasts from 3 - 6 months.