Socket Preservation

The area of the jaw bone that holds a tooth in place is called the alveolus or tooth socket. After a tooth has been removed, the bone that supported this tooth rapidly begins to melt away as pressure causes resorption. When a dental implant surgeon knows that a dental implant will later be placed into this area, a socket preservation grafting procedure is performed to reduce the bone loss in the socket. Socket preservation can also preserve the facial appearance of a person that has a tooth removed even if they are not planning on replacing the tooth with a dental implant. Even with a conventional fixed bridge, the ridge will look full under the fake tooth, giving the impression of having a natural tooth in the area.

The socket preservation grafting procedure can be done right after a tooth removal or a week or two later. There is a waiting period of four to six months after tooth removal before a dental implant is placed into the old tooth’s position. Socket preservation grafting is done to conserve the bone in the area of the jaw. By grafting the socket, the width of the bone ridge can be preserved up to about 80 or 90% of the original width of the ridge.

Look at the amount of bone loss that can occur after an extraction without socket preservation.

Socket preservation procedure is simple and painless (it does not add any more discomfort to the extraction of the tooth). After the tooth is removed, the socket is cleaned of any inflammation with instruments. Then, the cleaned socket is filled with bone graft material. The bone graft material placed within the socket is contained by using a membrane or collagen tape or plug. Then the area is sutured to stabilize the graft and the membrane. The sutures are removed 1 to 3 weeks later. If the membrane used does not dissolve (resorb) on its own, it is removed later through another procedure.

It is much easier to preserve the ridge shape than to recreate it later. With socket preservation, the extracted site will normally have plenty of bone for future implant placement.