To place implants with minimal trauma is what the patient and clinician are seeking. Hence, the aim of this study was to quantify the potential of using an implant fixture as a ridge expander in an underprepared osteotomy. Thirty-eight edentulous sites in 12 human cadaver jaws with ridge widths ranging from 4 to 6 mm and with type 3 or type 4 bone density were randomly assigned into 2 groups. In the ridge expansion group (RE), each osteotomy was drilled to a width of 2.8 mm and depth of 11.5 mm. In the non-ridge expansion (NE) control group, each osteotomy was drilled to a width of to 3.4 mm and depth of 11.5 mm. A 3.7 mm × 11.5 mm tapered implant was inserted into each site. The ridge width before (RW1) and after (RW2) implant placement as well as the buccal plate thickness (BPT) post-insertion were measured and analyzed. In the RE group, the average RW1 and RW2 were 4.69 ± 0.45 mm and 5.54 ± 0.35 mm, respectively, corresponding to a statistically significant ridge expansion of 0.85 mm (P < .01). In the NE group, no ridge width gain was observed (RW1: 4.79 ± 0.40 mm, RW2: 4.88 ± 0.42 mm). Compared to NE, RE resulted in a statistically greater BPT (1.08 ± 0.28 mm after RE vs 0.71 ± 0.37 mm after NE, P < .001). Our study determined that it was physically possible to widen a ridge by an average of 0.85 mm by osteotomy underprepation in ridge with type 3 or type 4 bone density, which effectively turned the implant upon insertion into a ridge expander. The physiological consequences of this method of ridge expansion in a living person must be established before drawing further conclusions about its clinical indications or efficacy.

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