Socket Preservation Procedure

Preserving the Jaw Bone after Extraction

Removal of teeth is sometimes necessary as a result of pain, infection, bone loss, or due to fracture of a tooth. The bone that holds the tooth in place (the socket) is often damaged by disease and/or infection, exacerbating the defect in the jaw following tooth extraction. In addition, when teeth are extracted, the surrounding bone and gums can shrink and recede, creating unsightly irregularities and a collapse of the lips and cheeks.

These jaw defects can create significant challenges to performing restorative dentistry whether one’s treatment involves the fabrication of dentures or placement of bridges or dental implants. Jaw deformities following tooth removal can be prevented and repaired by a procedure called socket preservation. Socket preservation can greatly improve the appearance of one’s smile and increase the probability that dental implants can be placed successfully.

Several techniques can be used to preserve the bone and minimize bone loss following tooth extraction. A frequently used method involves filling the socket with bone or bone substitute after the tooth is removed. The site is then covered with artificial membrane, or tissue, which encourages and enhances the body’s natural ability to repair the socket. The gum tissue is then sutured to protect the socket preservation procedure. With this method, the socket is able to heal while eliminating shrinkage and collapse of the surrounding gum and facial tissues. The bone which is thereby encouraged to newly form in the socket, will also provide a foundation for an implant to be placed to replace the tooth. A socket preservation procedure is particularly considered when the front teeth are being replaced, and where esthetics are especially important.