The upper and lower jaws are divided into two kinds of bone. One kind forms the base of the jaws. This bone will remain long after the teeth are lost. The other kind of bone helps to support the teeth. This second kind of bone tends to dissolve away once the teeth are removed. In fact, some areas of the jaw can lose as much as 70% of this second kind of bone in the first year!
When this bone is lost it makes it harder to find enough bone to replace the teeth with dental implants. This bone, however, can be replaced with a surgery called Guided Bone Regeneration (GBR) or Ridge Augmentation. We can take bone from other areas of your mouth and build this bone back up. Sometimes Dr. Alvarenga likes to mix the patient’s bone with bone from a bone bank or from a cow. You can ask about these different sources of bone. Sedation and local anesthetic is available for GBR surgery!
Gum disease has traditionally been treated by eliminating the gum pockets by trimming away the infected gum tissue and by re-contouring the uneven bone tissue. Although this is still an effective way of treating gum disease, new and more sophisticated procedures are used routinely today. One of these advancements is Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR). This procedure is used to stabilize endangered teeth.
As periodontal disease progresses, pockets of degenerated bone develop in the jaw. These pockets can promote the growth of bacteria and the spread of infection. To address these pockets, Dr. Alvarenga may recommend Guided Tissue Regeneration. During this surgical procedure, the pockets are cleaned thoroughly, and a membrane is installed between the soft tissue and the pocket in the bone. Some of these membranes are bio-absorbable and some require removal. The membrane covers the pocket so that fast-growing soft tissue is blocked, and slower-growing bone can begin to grow, or “regenerate” itself.
GTR surgery (around teeth) is not as predictable as GBR surgery (for implants). Much of the effectiveness of GTR Surgery depends on the patient’s willingness to follow a strict postoperative diet and careful oral care. Dr. Alvarenga will help you determine if GTR surgery is right for you.
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