Protect your oral health after tooth loss.

By the time the average American turns 50, they will have lost 12 permanent teeth, including their wisdom teeth. Cavities, gum disease, and injury are the most common culprits.

Losing a tooth can be a painful experience, especially if it leads to other issues like shifting teeth and bone loss. The great news is, socket preservation can help protect your remaining teeth as well as the health of your jaw. It can also make it easier to get a dental implant in the future. Read on to learn more about this procedure before your next tooth extraction.

What happens after a tooth is pulled?

When you have a tooth pulled or extracted, you’re left with a hole in your alveolar ridge. This hole, or socket, is a piece of bone that used to hold the root of your tooth. Think of it like a light bulb socket after you unscrew the bulb. However, unlike a light bulb socket, your tooth socket will start to change as soon as a tooth is removed.

Your bone cells rely on pressure and friction to regenerate and when you have a missing tooth, your cells lose that stimulation. That makes the bone cells in the socket start to wither away.

This can lead to bone loss in your jaw, which can cause your teeth to shift and even lead to structural changes in your jaw. Luckily, a socket preservation procedure can prevent this type of oral bone loss.

What is socket preservation?

Socket preservation is a type of bone graft procedure meant to protect the alveolar ridge. The alveolar ridge is a narrow strip of bone that holds our teeth in place, like a home’s foundation.

When you have a tooth pulled, the body stops nourishing that area and the cells begin to die off. The graft takes the place of the tooth’s root in the socket and allows the alveolar ridge to heal into solid bone.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to fix the alveolar ridge without surgery. That’s why this bone graft procedure is a way to protect the ridge and prevent further bone loss.

What to expect from a socket preservation procedure.

The best time for a socket preservation procedure is the same time you have a tooth pulled. The less time you have an empty socket, the less chance you have of losing bone mass.

During the procedure, your dentist will place the bone graft into the socket. The graft can be a man-made material, animal bone, or human bone from a donor tissue bank. Some dentists prefer to use the patient’s own bone and harvest it from the jaw or elsewhere in the body.

Once the graft is in the socket, the dentist will place a collagen membrane on top. This protects the socket and provides nutrients to the graft as it dissolves over time. Your dentist will protect the area by closing it up with a few sutures.

This is a surgical procedure, so you might feel some discomfort or swelling for a few days afterwards. Always check in with your dentist if you have concerns or questions.

The Implant Process and Need for Socket Protection

If you’ve recently had a tooth pulled or you will in the near future, you should look for a dentist who will do a bone graft procedure at the same time. This is especially important if you’d like to replace your missing tooth with a dental implant down the track.

Bone loss in your jaw or alveolar ridge can make it more difficult to place an implant. The implant might not look or feel as stable as it could. In fact, 5% to 10% of implants fail and insufficient jaw bone is one of the leading causes. Implant failure can be a painful, stressful, and costly issue to fix. That’s why it’s best to do everything you can to prevent it from happening.

I’m not planning on a dental implant, do I really need a bone graft?

If dental implants aren’t part of your plan, you might wonder if you really need a bone graft. The answer is, yes, you should still have a bone graft procedure anyway.

Even if you don’t plan to restore your missing tooth, a bone graft will secure your surrounding teeth so they don’t shift positions. Shifting teeth can put you at higher risk of cavities and gum recession. Opting for a bone graft when you have a tooth pulled will protect your smile as well as your health. Plus, it can protect the roots of your surrounding teeth as well as the structure of your jaw bone.

A socket preservation graft is also a wise idea if you’ll need a bridge or dentures in the future. For dentures to fit properly, you need enough jaw bone to support them. For a bridge to work, your surrounding teeth and gums need to have the right height to ensure the proper fit.

Whether or not you decide to get dental implants, it’s a good idea to get a bone graft when you have a tooth pulled. For a few hundred dollars you can prevent further dental issues. Plus, you’ll have more options when it comes to dentures or bridges.

Protect Your Smile Today

Socket preservation should be the second part of a tooth extraction. It will prevent bone loss and preserve your smile. Plus, it makes the implant process much easier if you choose that route in the future.

If you’re dealing with tooth loss, we can help. At Metro East Dental Care, we offer restorative dentistry with compassionate care so you can regain the look, feel, and function of your smile. Contact us today to get more information or book an appointment.