Severe loss of jaw bone can result from advanced periodontitis (gum disease), trauma, or oral pathology (cysts, cancer, etc). With loss of teeth and bone, patients are often given removable partial dentures that are difficult to eat with and are quite unaesthetic. But with advances in bone regeneration techniques, materials, and dental implants, conditions once considered impossible to manage, are now much more predictable to treat.
Loss of both horizontal and vertical bone loss is referred to as a 3-dimensional ridge defect. While horizontal deficiencies can be restored more readily, severe vertical defects are considerably more difficult to manage. This is because the soft tissue has equally been lost and success of vertical bone grafting depends highly on adequate blood flow and coverage from the soft tissue.
One solution for severe vertical ridge defects is distraction osteogenesis which allows gradual ‘streching’ of the bone and gum tissue using a special device. With this technique, 1 mm a day in vertical augmentation can be achieved until the desired dimension is reached. Following a 3-4 month healing, the site is ready for implants or additional bone graft as necessary which can be done much more predictably with the newly self-regenerated soft tissue.
With the right tissue regeneration techniques, patients with significant bone loss can be treated quite effectively and replace their missing teeth with dental implants restoring their smile, chewing, and livelihood.