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Socket Grafting

Home  /  Socket Grafting

Preserving your bone for future implant placement.

What happens when your tooth is removed?

There is a special type of bone surrounding your teeth, called alveolar bone, and exists solely to support your teeth.  Immediately following tooth extraction, this bone begins to shrink.  Loss of bone occurs in two dimensions:

Horizontal width: caused by the collapse of the thin bone surrounding the socket. This makes the remaining ridge narrower than when the tooth was present and may prevent future implant placement.

Vertical height: in the upper back jaw, if there is inadequate height of bone oftentimes we add bone when completing a sinus lift procedure either prior to or at the time of implant placement. This shrinkage of height of bone following extraction is often faster in areas where you wear a partial or complete denture.

Why is it important to preserve your bone?

If you must loose a tooth, we will review with you several options for replacement.  All of the options rely on bone support and bone contour for the best function and esthetics. Some possible options include:

Dental implants: These are root-shaped supports that hold your replacement teeth. The more bone support you have, the stronger the implant replacements will be. In some cases, your bone can degenerate to a point where implants can no longer be placed without having more complex bone grafting procedures to rebuild the necessary support. Obviously, preventing bone loss is much easier than rebuilding lost bone later.

Fixed bridge: This is a restoration that is supported by the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth space. The replacement tooth (called a pontic) fills the space. If the bone is deficient, there will be an unsightly gap under the pontic that will trap food and affect your speech. Sometimes we recommend adding a bone graft of soft tissue graft to these areas to improve not only looks, but also the cleansibility of these areas.

Removable partial or complete dentures: Oftentimes dentures perform better and are more stable with more supporting bone.

How can the bone be preserved?

There are two important phases in retaining your alveolar ridge during and after the tooth extraction:

Excellent extraction technique: Not all extractions are the same. At whole dental wellness, our team of experts will use the most careful techniques to extract your tooth while preserving as much bone as possible.

Socket preservation: If the socket walls are very thin after extraction, we oftentimes recommend socket preservation – the addition of bone replacement material to the extraction socket – to slow down the shrinkage process and give us the best chance to have adequate bone for a future dental implant in this area once healing has occurred.

How does socket preservation work?

Immediately after your tooth is extracted, the socket will be packed with a bone-like material and covered with a small absorbable plug or membrane.  A socket graft is a bone grafting procedure where the socket, or “hole” present in your jawbone when your tooth is extracted, is filled with bone either immediately following extraction in preparation for a future dental implant or in conjunction with an immediate implant placement that same day. With immediate implants, this may be necessary to fill a small gap in the bone surrounding the implant site.  Early on, the grafting material will support the tissue surrounding the socket, and in time will be replaced by your own new, healthy, natural bone.  This bone will be an excellent support should you choose later to have dental implant-supported replacement teeth.

Although the bone created by socket grafting supports and preserves the socket, it will not do so forever.  Placing dental implants 4-6 months after the extraction and socket grafting will provide the best long-lasting support for preserving your jawbone and allow you to function as before. Otherwise the graft may shrink away or resorb over time.