When a tooth is lost, the gum and jawbone begins to recede over time and leaves an indentation even after the tooth is replaced. Gum indentation results from a variety of issues – the jawbone may have been infected with a disease or it may have suffered trauma when the tooth was lost. Once a tooth is missing, the gum and jaw naturally recede when it no longer needs to hold a tooth in place. The receding gum can cause replacement teeth to look unnatural or long compared to the surrounding teeth. There is often minimal cosmetic damage to the gum or jawbone if the proper procedure has been completed to preserve tissue around the location of the lost tooth. If not, a ridge augmentation allows a periodontist to alter the gum line so the new teeth look natural after they are restored.
Before the periodontist begins work, a radiograph will be needed to determine the exact location of where the bone graft will be inserted. If there are irregularities in the bone, a dental drill may be used to reshape the bone for proper healing.
A section of the gum directly under where the missing tooth once was is opened through a flap and a small piece of bone is then inserted and secured to the jawbone to prevent a receding gum and jaw over time. If the patient’s bone health is compromised, synthetic or animal bone substitutes will be used. After the graft is in the proper place the gum is sutured up, and the healing process often takes four to six months for complete reinforcement for the new tooth implant. A temporary bridge is used while healing takes place, before a permanent tooth is set in place.
The rate and effectiveness of healing depends on each patient. After surgery, a patient may experience any of the following, though complications are rare:
- Post-surgical infection or bleeding
- Swelling or facial pain and bruising
- Limited mobility of the mouth and jaw
- Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot foods and beverages
- Numbness in the gums, lip or tongue
If the periodontist is not satisfied with the rate of healing or bone growth at the grafting site, a second procedure may be necessary. To minimize discomfort for the first five days, the periodontist will prescribe medication for pain management, in addition to Ibuprofen. While the surgery site is healing, soft foods are recommended for a few days after the augmentation, but then normal foods should be eaten as soon as the patient is able.
Benefits of Ridge Augmentation
Aside from the aesthetic benefit of a ridge augmentation, the procedure helps to reduce any further deterioration of the gum or jaw. A receding jaw or gum will harm remaining teeth in the mouth, leading to further discomfort and tooth loss. Cosmetic benefits include new permanent implants looking and fitting better within the gums, and will tend to look more natural around adjacent teeth.
Cost of Ridge Augmentation
In the United States, a ridge augmentation procedure may cost around $4,000 USD, depending on the condition of the gum when the procedure is completed. Costs may vary for post-surgery care and medication. In India, costs for the procedure range between $300 and $500 USD.
Choosing Your Doctor
The cosmetic dentist you select should have basic credentials as well as experience in the procedure you are looking for. Finding a highly skilled cosmetic dentist may take a little bit of effort but will pay off in the long run. Your dentist should be licensed through a state or national licensing board. Find out where they completed their dental training. Do they belong to American or International dental associations or organizations?
Cosmetic dental patients should be able to view and understand their treatment plan as well as all the costs and recommendations that are necessary and included for a specific procedure. Those undergoing orthodontic treatment should be seen by a certified orthodontist, a dentist who has completed two to three years of additional study in the field of orthodontics.
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