Before I place dental implants, it is important to provide a strong foundation on which to position the implants so they endure. In other words, the underlying bone must be sturdy and viable enough to withstand the implant surgery and maintain the stability of the implants once they are placed. It is especially important that the ridge, the bone in the gum line out of which the healthy teeth used to protrude and into which the implants will be placed, is healthy and strong before beginning implant surgery. Sometimes, when the ridge is thin or weak, it is necessary to perform site preservation and ridge augmentation before beginning the implant placement process.
Site preservation is exactly what it sounds like; it is a procedure using natural bone to “pack” the extraction site, preserving ridge density and volume. When a tooth is extracted, it leaves a hollow space that causes the ridge to deteriorate and eventually reabsorb, which in turn causes the jawline to have a shrunken and concave appearance. I place natural bone into the extraction site to preserve the integrity of the jawline allowing the extraction site to heal with the most volume of bone possible.
Sometimes a collagen barrier has to be placed on the facial (outer) and lingual (inner) sides of the ridge in tandem with site preservation. The barrier prohibits the growth of undesirable cells that prevent successful thickening of the ridge. Specifically, the barrier prevents epithelial tissue, which grows more quickly than bone, from overtaking an area where the growth of bone is desired.
Ridge augmentation, which does not necessarily follow a tooth extraction, is a procedure utilized to maintain the width and height of the bone in the gum line. During ridge augmentation, I re-build the height and/or the thickness of the ridge. For this procedure, I’ll either use bone particulate, which is bone particles consisting of de-calcified, freeze dried bone, or blocks of bone. It helps to think of ridge augmentation like building a sand castle. Someone may use sand to fortify the height and width of his castle, so I utilize bone to buttress the integrity of the existing bone in the gum line.
Site preservations and ridge augmentations are important components of the implant placement process. Without a strong foundation of bone, the implants have a decreased likelihood of longevity. Fortunately, these bone placement procedures allow me to strengthen the area where the implants will be placed and ensure that your implants will be long lasting and secure for numerous years to come.