Ridge preservation, also known as socket preservation, is a type of bone grafting. Designed to stimulate bone growth in an empty tooth socket following a tooth extraction, ridge preservation is a type of periodontal surgery. While tooth extraction is normally uncomplicated, at times, particularly following several extractions, bone at the site may collapse, becoming unable to support incoming implants. In such cases, ridge preservation is necessary before dental implantation can successfully take place. The purpose of ridge preservation is to prevent the area from collapsing by establishing enough bone growth to support the implants.
Benefits of Ridge Preservation
Ridge preservation helps to restore tooth function and stability during and after dental implantation. It also helps to give the dental patient natural-looking teeth and appropriate facial contours. It is important that a necessary ridge preservation procedure be performed at the time of the extraction so that the socket does not heal over before the preservation is performed. Ridge preservation dramatically delays a process called bone resorption during which tooth tissue is broken down and reabsorbed into the body.
The Ridge Preservation Procedure
There are several steps involved in the ridge preservation process. Once the tooth has been extracted, an empty socket is exposed in the alveolar ridge, the ridge of the upper and lower jaw bones surrounding the roots of the teeth. Incisions are made in the gum line to create flaps. The sockets are filled with regenerative bone grafting material.
This grafting material may be composed of the patient's own tissue, freeze dried human bone from a donor bank, processed bone elements from animals (usually cows) or a synthetic bone substitute. A protective dressing is then applied, the gum flap is replaced over the tooth socket, and the wound is sutured. A ridge preservation procedure usually takes about an hour to complete.
Recovery from Ridge Preservation
Ridge preservation enables dental implantation to take place much sooner than would otherwise be possible. For the patient, recovery from this dental surgery is similar to recovery from a simple tooth extraction. Extensive time, however is required for healing to take place before dental implantation can take place. Depending on the size of the ridge preservation procedure, the patient's age and healing ability, graft healing typically takes between 3 and 6 months.