Removing teeth is occasionally needed due to chronic infection, trauma, impaction, decay, or other damage to the tooth. Once the tooth is removed, however, care is needed to preserve the empty space (a.k.a. the socket) left behind.
The socket that holds the tooth in place is often damaged by disease and/or infection resulting in deformity of the jaw after the tooth is extracted. Additionally, when teeth are removed, the surrounding bone and gums can shrink and recede very quickly after the extraction resulting in unsightly defects and collapse of the lips, and cheeks.
These defects in the bone can create complications in performing restorative dentistry whether your treatment involves dental implants, bridges or dentures. However, jaw deformities from tooth removal can be prevented and repaired by a procedure called socket preservation. Socket preservation can greatly improve your smile and increase the longevity of dental implants for years.
How is Socket Preservation Performed?
There are various techniques that are available to preserve the bone and minimize bone loss after a tooth extraction. One common method involves filling the socket with bone or bone substitute after the tooth is removed. The area is then covered with gum tissue, an artificial membrane, or tissue-stimulating proteins to encourage the body’s natural ability to heal the socket. As the socket heals, it minimizes the risk of shrinkage and the caving in of the surrounding gum and facial structures. As new bone forms, it provides a strong foundation for a dental implant to replace the tooth. If you are considering tooth removal, be sure to ask if socket preservation is necessary, especially if you are planning on replacing the teeth.