After a tooth has been removed or lost, the bone that was surrounding the tooth can often “melt” away. This resorption process if left long enough can reduce the bone volume to a point that a dental implant can not be placed. Often times block bone grafts, guided bone regeneration, or osteogenic distraction techniques are used to regenerate the bone to allow for dental implant placement.
In a recent article in the Journal of Oral Implantology, surgeons described another technique, ridge expansion. In this technique, a bone cut or osteotomy is made to allow for the placement of a bone chisel. The bone is then expanded and a dental implant is placed. This basically creates a greenstick fracture of the bone and the dental implant maintains the bone expansion. After a few months of healing the bone is healed in its new position around the dental implant.
If it has been a while since you have lost your tooth and you desire a dental implant, discuss all the options – dental bone grafting, guided bone regeneration, osteogenic distraction, infuse and bone expansion.