The bone that surrounds the teeth, all along the front of the jaw, is known as the alveolar ridge. This ridge forms the front, or facial aspect of the tooth socket. When a tooth is extracted, an empty socket is left behind. If the facial plate of the socket is thin and breaks during extraction or if this area was already missing, the area will need to be built up with a bone graft to avoid further bone loss and to provide a good foundation into which an implant may be placed.
To accomplish this, a bone graft is placed into the tooth socket and built out enough to replicate the original height and width of the ridge. This bone allows the body to rapidly fill in the area, preserving the area. Depending on the severity of the defect in the facial wall, Dr. Mabry may choose to use a space maintaining material, such as a membrane or mesh to preserve the shape of the ridge. Growth factors from the patient may also be used to aid in healing. The gingival tissue is then gently placed over the area and sutured into place. Generally, this procedure is accomplished at the time of the tooth extraction, eliminating the need for more than one surgical procedure.
After the ridge augmentation procedure is completed, Dr. Mabry normally waits 4 to 6 months before proceeding with implant placement in the area. This allows time for the bone to fully heal and integrate with the socket area.