Socket preservation, sometimes known as alveolar ridge preservation, is a dental procedure intended to reduce bone loss following a tooth extraction. Sometimes after a tooth is removed the jaw bone tends to narrow, losing up to 60% of its volume within six months. This in turn can prevent Dr. Stenvall from placing a tooth implant or other restorative dental procedure, which can be detrimental to the patient’s overall recovery. In order to prevent this series of events, dentists make use of a variety of socket preservation techniques and procedures, which are most often successful in preserving both the socket and the surrounding bone structure.
Socket preservation is most often accomplished by placing a bone graft immediately after the tooth is extracted. While a variety of bone graft procedures and materials may be used depending upon the patient’s needs, generally once the tooth is extracted and the socket prepared a bone substitute material is put in place and covered with a barrier membrane. After that the site is sutured closed so that it can heal and the bone can regrow. When the socket is fully healed, the dentist may choose to place one of a number of dental implants in order to replace the missing tooth and restore the patient’s smile.
One of the goals of socket preservation is to avoid the dreaded dry socket, when the scab covering a healing socket is knocked loose, exposing the nerve beneath. This can be uncomfortable or even outright painful for the patient, so good aftercare by both dentist and patient is necessary to avoid it. Your dentist will give you instructions as to how to care for your extraction site, and you should follow them carefully.
Socket preservation sounds daunting, but in reality it’s a routine dental procedure with a good success rate. As always, your situation is unique and Dr. Stenvall will tell you what you need and how things might proceed.