Ridge Modification

Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. This defect may have been caused by periodontal disease, wearing dentures, developmental defects, injury or trauma. Not only does this deformity cause problems in placing the implant, it can also cause an unattractive indentation in the jaw line near the missing teeth that may be difficult to clean and maintain.

To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Your periodontist can tell you about your options for graft materials, which can help to regenerate lost bone and tissue.

Finally, the incision is closed and healing is allowed to take place. Depending on your individual needs, the bone usually will be allowed to develop for about four to 12 months before implants can be placed. In some cases, the implant can be placed at the same time the ridge is modified.

Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come. Ridge modification can enhance your restorative success both aesthetically and functionally.

Various techniques are utilized for regenerating bone in a deficient ridge. The selection of the techniques depends on multiple factors, such as the area of the mouth and the volume of the bone that needs regeneration. Some of the more common techniques are:

  • Onlay graft or Block graft – The bony defect can be regenerated by using a small block of bone that is secured with small fixation screw into the area of deficiency. The bone block can either be bone from tissue banks that are specifically processed for this purpose or harvested from another part of the patient’s jaw.
  • Guided bone regeneration – The jaw defect is re-grown using bone and a specialized membrane. Once the graft is placed it needs 4 – 6 months of healing before an implant can be placed.
  • Infuse Bone Graft or BMP – Bone has a specialized growth factor in it called bone morphogenetic protein or BMP. This protein has been isolated and can be grown in the laboratory for use on bone regeneration. The results with this technique are often spectacular, but it is a much more expensive technique due to the cost of the BMP.
  • Ridge splitting – If the jaw ridge has a narrow width, then it can be split and expanded at the time of implant placement.