What is a Ridge Augmentation?
A ridge augmentation is a common dental procedure often performed following a tooth extraction to help recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss as a result of a tooth extraction, or for another reason.
The alveolar ridge of the jaw is the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth. When a tooth is removed, an empty socket is left in the alveolar ridge bone. Usually this empty socket will heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue. Sometimes when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks, and it unable to heal on its own. The previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge is not medically necessary, but may be required for dental implant placement, or for aesthetic purposes. Dental implants require bone to support their structure, and a ridge augmentation can help rebuild this bone to accommodate the implant.
How is the Oral Surgery Accomplished?
A ridge augmentation is accomplished by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket. It is often done immediately after the tooth is removed, to avoid the need for a second procedure later. Next, the gum tissue is placed over the socket and secured with sutures. Dr. Austin may choose to use a space-maintaining product over the top of the graft to help restore the height and width of the space created by the tooth and bone loss, and into which new bone should grow. Once the socket has healed, the alveolar ridge can be prepared for dental implant placement.
A ridge augmentation procedure is typically performed in Dr. Austin’s office under local anesthesia. Some patients may also request sedative medication in addition.
What is a Sinus Lift?
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
The key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached. If bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation. A sinus lift is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw. The procedure seeks to grow bone in the floor of the maxillary sinus above the bony ridge of the gum line that anchors the teeth in the upper jaw. By strengthening and growing bone in this location, dental implants can be placed and secured in the new bone growth.
Am I a Candidate for a Sinus Lift Procedure?
A sinus lift may be necessary if you:
- are missing more than one tooth in the back of your jaw.
- are missing a significant amount of bone in the back of your jaw.
- are missing teeth due to a birth defect or condition.
- are missing most of the maxillary teeth, but require support for dental implants.
How is this Oral Surgery Accomplished?
In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made on the premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is cut into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from a cadaver. Sometimes, synthetic materials that can imitate bone formation are used. After the bone is implanted, the incision is stitched up and the healing process begins. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option besides wearing loose dentures.
A sinus augmentation is generally performed at Dr. Austin‘s office, under local anesthesia. However, some patients also may request oral or intravenous sedative medication as well.
The inferior alveolar nerve which gives feeling to the lower lip and chin may need to be moved in order to make room for placement of dental implants to the lower jaw. This procedure is limited to the lower jaw and indicated when teeth are missing in the area of the two back molars and/or and second premolar, with the above-mentioned secondary condition. Since this procedure is considered a very aggressive approach (there is almost always some postoperative numbness of the lower lip and jaw area, which dissipates only very slowly, if ever). Usually other, less aggressive options are considered first (placement of blade implants, etc.).
Typically we remove an outer section of the cheek side of the lower jawbone in order to expose the nerve and vessel canal. Then we isolate the nerve and vessel bundle in that area, and slightly pull it out to the side. At the same time we place the implants, we’ll be tracking the neuro-vascular bundle. Then the bundle is released and placed back over the implants. The surgical access is refilled with bone graft material of the surgeon’s choice and the area is closed.
These procedures may be performed separately or together depending upon the individual’s condition. As stated earlier, there are several areas of the body that are suitable for attaining bone grafts. In the maxillofacial region, bone grafts can be taken from inside the mouth, in the area of the chin or third molar region or in the upper jaw behind the last tooth. In more extensive situations, a greater quantity of bone can be attained from the hip or the outer aspect of the tibia at the knee. When we use the patient’s own bone for repairs or addition, we generally get the best results.
In many cases, we can use allograft material to implement bone grafting for dental implants. This bone is prepared from cadavers and used to get the patient’s own bone to grow into the repair site. It is quite effective and very safe. Synthetic materials can also be used to stimulate bone formation. We even use factors from your own blood to accelerate and promote bone formation in graft areas.
These surgeries are performed in the out-office surgical suite under IV sedation or general anesthesia. After discharge, bed rest is recommended for one day and limited physical activity for one week.
Preserving Your Jaw Bone after Extraction
Removal of teeth is sometimes necessary because of pain, infection, bone loss or fracture of the tooth. The bone that holds the tooth in place (the socket) is often damaged by disease and/or infection resulting in deformity of the jaw after the tooth is extracted. In addition, when teeth are extracted, the surrounding bone and gums can shrink and recede very quickly after the extraction resulting in unsightly defects and collapse of the lips, and cheeks.
These jaw defects can create major problems in performing restorative dentistry whether your treatment involves dental implants, bridges or dentures. Jaw deformities from tooth removal can be prevented and repaired by a procedure called socket preservation. Socket preservation can greatly improve your smile’s appearance and increase your chances for successful dental implants for years to come.
Several techniques can be used to preserve the bone and minimize bone loss after an extraction. In one common method, the tooth is removed and the socket is filled with bone or bone substitute. It is then covered with gum, artificial membrane, or tissue stimulating proteins to encourage your body’s natural ability to repair the socket. With this method, the socket heals eliminating shrinkage and collapse of surrounding gum and facial tissues. The newly formed bone in the socket also provides a foundation for an implant to replace the tooth. If your dentist has recommended tooth removal, be sure to ask if socket preservation is necessary. This is particularly important if you are planning on replacing the front teeth.