What Is Socket Preservation and When Do You Need It?

socket preservation

Are you planning to have a tooth extracted due to damage, decay, or gum disease? If so, then your dentist may recommend a corresponding socket preservation procedure.

This treatment can help preserve your jaw in the area where the extraction occurred. Today, we’re sharing how the process works and why you may need it. 

Bone Loss After Tooth Extraction

To understand why this treatment is necessary, it helps to get a quick lesson on bone composition. In short, there are two different types of cells in your bones: osteoclasts and osteoblasts.

Osteoclasts are large cells that come from your bone marrow. They’re responsible for dissolving old bone and delivering it into your bloodstream through a process called reabsorption. Osteoblasts are the cells that work to form new bone and reinforce existing bone tissue shape.

Both types of cells are present in your jaw, including your alveolar bone that contains your tooth sockets. That bone stays strong due to the constant force exerted when you bite and chew. This force tells the osteoblasts in your jaw to fortify that bone and keep it strong. 

When you undergo a tooth extraction, that same force is no longer being exerted in the space where that tooth once was. Instead, osteoclasts will take over, and will begin to break down the bone. Over time, this can cause your jawbone to start deteriorating or narrowing, first in that isolated area, and eventually, all over.

In fact, your initial alveolar bone volume could shrink by 40% to 60% within the first six months of the extraction. When this happens, it can be difficult to pursue any type of restorative dental procedure, such as dental implants.

Preventing Bone Loss Through Socket Preservation

Socket preservation is a special technique designed to preserve your tooth socket and surrounding bone structure following an extraction. In our office, we conduct a bone grafting procedure immediately after the extraction. 

Though the specific technique may vary due to each patient’s individual needs, the general procedure is the same. Once Dr. Stenvall extracts your tooth and prepares the tooth socket, he will place a bone substitute material into the socket space. Then, he will cover the material with a special barrier membrane. 

Then, he will suture the site closed so it can heal. Your bone will then start to regrow in that spot. When it’s fully healed, Dr. Stenvall can add a dental implant there to restore your smile. 

In addition to preventing bone loss and narrowing, socket preservation also helps you avoid painful dry sockets. When your tooth is extracted, your gum tissue will naturally form a scab to cover and heal the exposed area. If that scab is knocked loose for any reason, it can expose the nerve underneath, which can be very uncomfortable!

Learn More About Socket Preservation

If you’re preparing to undergo a tooth extraction, then your dentist may recommend socket preservation. This procedure can help fortify and strengthen your jawbone, help you avoid dry sockets, and make it possible to pursue a restorative dental treatment once you’re fully healed.

To learn more about this procedure or ask any questions, feel free to contact us today.