Ridge Augmentation and Guided Bone Regeneration
Patients requiring dental implants may face challenges due to bone loss in the jawbone. A number of conditions lead to reduced bone density. For example, lost teeth often cause bone loss, especially when tooth loss occurred due to periodontal disease. When the jawbone shrinks or softens, it provides inadequate support for dental implants. In the past, patients suffering this kind of bone loss were not candidates for dental implants. Modern technologies, however, allow bone augmentation and even regeneration, making it possible for these patients to receive dental implants.
What Is Ridge Augmentation?
Following tooth loss or extraction, your periodontist may perform a ridge augmentation procedure. This procedure rebuilds the alveolar ridge, the bone surrounding tooth roots. A lost tooth leaves an empty socket in this ridge, which usually heals on its own. Occasionally, though, the socket does not heal properly and instead deteriorates. A ridge augmentation procedure rebuilds the bone in preparation for a dental implant. The patient may also choose this procedure for cosmetic reasons.
A second option to treat a damaged alveolar ridge is guided bone regeneration (GBR).
What Is Guided Bone Regeneration?
Sometimes called guided tissue regeneration (GTR), guided bone regeneration (GBR) uses special membranes under the gum to protect bone grafts and encourage regrowth. These membranes also encourage bone growth in other ways. For instance, some tissue growth interferes with bone growth; GBR prevents these tissues from growing.
A ridge augmentation and GBR procedure may take place immediately following a tooth extraction, depending on your unique needs. If it takes place after tooth loss, your periodontist administers anesthetic and then thoroughly cleans the gum pockets before making an incision in the gum tissue.
Your doctor inserts the membrane between the soft tissue and the bone pocket. This prevents faster-growing soft tissue from interfering with the slower growth of bone tissue, allowing it time to regenerate. Your periodontist may also apply biologics to speed regeneration. Finally, your doctor closes the incision.
Once healing is complete, the doctor schedules your dental implants. As in the GBR procedure, he or she administers anesthesia, usually a local anesthetic, but sedation is available. The implants themselves are metal and inserted into the jawbone. Post and bone bond together, creating a strong foundation for your new artificial teeth.
After your ridge augmentation procedure, your doctor prescribes antibiotics and possibly medication to manage pain. He or she also provides post-operative instructions regarding oral hygiene; follow these instructions carefully. Apply ice to the area to minimize bruising and swelling, and limit physical activity for the first few days following surgery.
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