If you are missing teeth and considering replacing them with implants or an implant-supported denture or bridge, you need to be able to support them with an adequate amount of jawbone in the area. When you have all your teeth, they are housed within a base of your upper and lower jaw called an alveolar ridge.
When you have teeth removed, that ridge shrinks, which makes placing implants impossible. When you have several teeth missing, your jaw also starts to show indentations rather than a full contour, which can also change the shape of your face by creating a sullen look.
Immediately after a tooth is extracted, the underlying bone begins to shrink. By one year after that extraction, about 25% of bone shrinking has occurred. And if you wait more than 3 years to replace a tooth, up to 60% of that bone could be gone, creating noticeable indentations.
One way to preserve and rebuild bone so you can get implants and restore a healthy jaw contour is with the periodontal surgical procedure called ridge augmentation. Whether the ridge augmentation preserves or rebuilds bone depends on how long your teeth have been missing and how much bone has been lost. Ridge augmentation is a regenerative procedure that uses bone grafting material in affected areas to encourage your own body to grow new bone in that area.
Your periodontist corrects jawbone indentations and gum thinning by gently lifting the gums to access the indented bone and fill the area with bone graft material and the biologic membrane that will help your body regrow its own new bone, which will reestablish that natural jaw contour you need to support implants and implant-supported dentures.
This is an in-office procedure that is done using local anesthesia so that you are comfortable throughout the entire visit. Although local anesthetic will ensure a pain-free experience, some patients request sedation options that we offer so that they can remain relaxed during the treatment.
You can discuss anesthesia and sedation options with Dr. Fullem at your consultation appointment because our goal is that your experience is as comfortable as possible.
Following the surgery, you will leave with sutures and post-op instructions that will help you heal and minimize discomfort. Initially, healing takes about 2 weeks, which is when you will return for a follow-up appointment.
The entire healing process can take several months, depending on the extent of bone growth needed. Once the bone has regenerated, you and our team can begin the process of replacing teeth and building a beautiful and healthy smile!