The “ridge” is the alveolar ridge. This is the bone the teeth roots are in. Loss of teeth and tooth disease cause loss of alveolar ridge bone. Loss of bone causes weakening of the jaw and collapse of the facial soft tissues leading to features of old age. The appearance of premature aging is not the only problem. The function of the dentofacial complex is negatively affected by the loss of alveolar ridge; this is one of the most vexing problems in dentistry.
Replacement of teeth by dentures, partials, bridges or implants is made more difficult and sometimes impossible because of the loss of alveolar bone. Rebuilding the alveolar bone has been a focus of attention for oral surgeons for a long time. New techniques and materials have made augmentation to the alveolar ridge more successful and available to more patients. In severe cases of bone atrophy, augmentation of the ridge can be accomplished by placing a bone graft to increase ridge height and/or width for implant placement or better denture fit.
A ridge expansion is a technique used to restore the lost bone dimension when the jaw ridge gets too thin to place conventional implants. In this procedure, the bony ridge of the jaw is literally expanded by mechanical means. Bone graft material can be placed in the gap and matured for a few months before placing the implant or an implant can sometimes be placed immediately.