An alveoloplasty is a surgical procedure that reshapes and smooths out the jaw where a tooth or teeth have been extracted or lost. The part of the jawbone that houses the teeth is called the alveolus, and "plasty" means molding, so alveoloplasty is the process of molding or reshaping the jaw.
Tooth Extraction and the Jawbone
Why would someone need this procedure? When a tooth is extracted, the socket (the hole where the tooth was located) heals over the course of several weeks. However, once healed, the area may not be ready for a tooth replacement, such as a denture, bridge or implant. The healed area is called an edentulous ridge, and it may be uneven or bumpy, which will not allow for a nice fit of the replacement tooth or teeth. Smoothing out the jawbone prepares the mouth for successful placement of the new, artificial tooth.
When Is an Alveoloplasty Performed?
The procedure can be performed either at the time of tooth extraction or after the site has fully healed. When you prepare for your tooth extraction, your dentist will evaluate your jaw and decide if it needs recontouring. They will also determine if you need to see a dental specialist.
Dentists often conduct this procedure at the same time as the tooth extraction to shape the jawbone in a way that facilitates healing, according to a review published in Drug Invention Today. Alternatively, the procedure can be performed once the site has healed but before the artificial tooth has been placed to make sure the shape of the jaw supports the new device.
Steps of the Procedure
In either scenario — during tooth extraction or after healing — the patient will be under local anesthesia for the duration of the procedure. This ensures that the patient feels no pain. The dentist will make an incision at the gumline to expose the underlying jawbone. With a chisel or a burr on a handheld drill, the dentist will adjust the bone to the desired shape. They will close the gum tissue with stitches to allow for proper healing.
Your dentist will provide specific instructions on how to care for your mouth after the surgery, such as eating soft foods. The healing period will take several weeks. According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, the average time from alveoloplasty to placement of the artificial tooth was 23 days when the surgery was conducted simultaneously with tooth extraction. If the procedure is performed separately from tooth extraction, the time between surgery and tooth replacement may be closer to 65 days.
Ready for Tooth Replacement
Alveoloplasty is a fairly common procedure designed to prevent complications with tooth replacements. Once you have a smooth jawbone, your mouth will be ready for a dental fixed replacement tooth, such as an dental implant. Your dentist will be able to identify if you might benefit from this surgery and provide a recommendation on when it should be performed. Their guidance is aimed at improving your oral health and helping you achieve your ideal smile.