Many people consider tooth loss a cosmetic concern, and while that is an important aspect of it, missing a tooth can also lead to other complications such as bone loss. When there is no tooth left in the bone, the bone no longer gets stimulation from the bone and can start to atrophy (shrink). Sometimes the bone shrinks to such a degree that a bone graft is necessary, especially if the patient is considering dental implants. Before we can place dental implants in a patient who has significant bone loss in their jaw, we here at Center for Advanced Periodontics and Implant Dentistry first must perform a ridge expansion procedure with a bone graft.
What is a Ridge Expansion Procedure?
When you lose a tooth, your jaw bone may start to shrink. While this is fairly common, it can lead to complications. For instance, shrinking bone mass can cause your face to take on a hollow, sagging, aged appearance. You may notice discomfort when you try to bite or chew, especially if the loss of bone material places your oral nerves closer to the surface where you can feel them. It can also impair your ability to get a dental implant if you ever decide that you want them in the future.
Your dental ridge (the jaw bone that supports your teeth) can shrink in both width and height. When it does shrink, we will not be able to place a dental implant on the site. Before we can proceed, we need to perform a ridge expansion, which is a procedure that allows us to widen your dental ridge to allow us to place the implant.
During this procedure, we will start by placing an incision into your gums to allow us access to the dental ridge. We will then carefully pry the dental ridge apart, widening it. We will use a special type of tool to perform the ridge expansion procedure, using a device called an osteotome.
By using our osteotome to pry your dental ridge apart, we will now have an opening between your dental ridge. This opening can be filled with bone graft material, allowing us to restore your dental bridge and make it wide enough and strong enough for a dental implant.
The bone graft material is typically composed of a variety of different materials. While some patients use donor bone from their own body, it is more common to use bone from a sterilized cadaver or an animal. This is both safe and sanitary and results in a successful bone graft.
A ridge expansion allows patients who would not otherwise be good candidates for them. The dental implant is placed into the jawbone with a titanium screw. This screw will fuse with the bone itself, a process called osseointegration. This makes the implant sturdy and strong in your mouth. Because we do rely on osseointegration to make the implant secure and last for your entire lifetime, we do need enough space and bone mass in your mouth to place it. That is why ridge expansion is so essential.
We Can Help You Determine if a Ridge Expansion is Right for You
If you are interested in learning more about how we use ridge expansions here in our office, or you would like to set up an appointment with us, please give us a call here at Center for Advanced Periodontics and Implant Dentistry at 508-441-4154 today.