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The alveolar ridge of the jaw is the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth. When a tooth is removed, an empty socket is left in the alveolar ridge bone. Usually this empty socket will heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue. Sometimes when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks, and it is unable to heal on its own. The previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate.
Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge is not medically necessary, but may be required for dental implant placement, or for aesthetic purposes. Dental implants require bone to support their structure, and a ridge augmentation can help rebuild this bone to accommodate the implant.
A ridge augmentation is accomplished by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket. It is often done immediately after the tooth is removed, to avoid the need for a second procedure later. Next, the gum tissue, or membrane(guided tissue regeneration) is placed over the socket and secured with sutures. Dr. Graffeo and Dr. Linsky may choose to use a space-maintaining product over the top of the graft to help restore the height and width of the space created by the tooth and bone loss, and into which new bone should grow. Once the socket has healed, the alveolar ridge can be prepared for dental implant placement.