To place implants with minimal trauma is what both patient and clinician are looking for. 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 two 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 x 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<0.01). 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 versus 0.71 ± 0.37 mm after NE, p<0.001). 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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