Socket Preservation Procedure

Preserving Your Jaw Bone after Extraction

Removal of teeth is sometimes necessary because of pain, infection, decay, bone loss or fracture. The bone that supports the tooth (the socket) is occasionally damaged by disease and/or infection which can result in a deformity of the jaw after the tooth is extracted.   In addition, following tooth extraction, it is common for the bone and gums to shrink and recede very quickly, especially in the first year.  The term for this is alveolar ridge resorption.  The shrinking is most common in the outer plate of bone as well as in the molar regions.  Since the bone supports the gum tissue, this resorption can lead to tissue collapse, unsightly defects and lack of cheek and lip support.  

These jaw defects can create major problems in performing restorative dentistry whether your treatment involves dental implants, bridges or dentures. Jaw deformities from tooth removal can be prevented and repaired by a procedure called socket preservation. Socket preservation at the time of extraction can  increase the success rate of dental implants by maintaining bone dimension and volume, which is needed for implant integration.

Several techniques can be used to preserve the bone and minimize bone loss after an extraction. In one common method, the tooth is removed and the socket is filled with bone or bone substitute. It is then covered with gum, artificial membrane, or tissue stimulating proteins to encourage your body’s natural ability to repair the socket. With this method, the socket heals eliminating shrinkage and collapse of surrounding gum and facial tissues. The newly formed bone in the socket also provides a foundation for an implant to replace the tooth. If your dentist has recommended tooth removal, be sure to ask if socket preservation is necessary. This is particularly important if you are planning on replacing the front teeth.