Reviewed by Dr. Thao Le, DDS, MD

When a tooth is extracted, it leaves a socket or a hole in the jawbone where the tooth used to be. This socket contains vital bone tissue that supports and holds the tooth in place.

However, when a tooth is removed, this bone tissue can deteriorate over time, leading to an uneven jawline and potential complications for future dental treatments.

To prevent this from happening, oral surgeons often recommend socket preservation, also known as an alveolar ridge preservation procedure. This procedure involves placing bone graft material into the socket after the tooth extraction to preserve the width and height of the bony ridge that supports the tooth.

In this blog, we will discuss why socket preservation is important, the procedure itself, and the benefits it offers.

Table of Contents

What is Socket Preservation?

Socket preservation is a bone grafting procedure that involves placing bone graft material into the socket after a tooth extraction. This bone graft material can be synthetic, human, or animal-derived and will act as a scaffold to encourage new bone growth.

The goal of this procedure is to preserve the bony ridge that supports the tooth in order to maintain the natural facial contours and prevent future complications with dental treatments such as dental implants.

Why You Should Consider Socket Preservation

Socket preservation is designed to prevent bone loss following a tooth extraction. This procedure ensures the jawbone remains intact and healthy for future dental work. Here’s why it’s worth considering:

  • Prevents bone loss: After tooth loss, the jawbone can start to atrophy due to lack of stimulation. A socket preservation helps maintain bone density and volume.
  • Prepares for future implants:  If you are planning to get dental implants in the future, a socket preservation can help create a stable and healthy foundation for them.
  • Improves aesthetics: A tooth extraction can result in changes to your facial structure that can affect your appearance. Socket preservation helps maintain the natural shape and contour of the jawline.

The Socket Preservation Procedure

The socket preservation procedure typically involves the following steps:

  1. Removal of the tooth: The first step is careful extraction of the tooth, ensuring minimal damage to the surrounding gum and jawbone.
  2. Cleaning the socket: The tooth socket is thoroughly cleaned to remove any debris or infection, setting the stage for successful grafting.
  3. Applying the bone graft material: A bone graft, which can be made from synthetic bone or sterile bone harvested from another area, is placed into the tooth socket. Types of bone graft include:
  • Autogenous bone (from your own body)
  • Allograft (human bone from a donor)
  • Xenograft (animal bone)
  • Synthetic materials
  1. Protection of the graft: A collagen membrane or plug is placed over the graft material to protect it and encourage bone regeneration.
  2. Healing process:  The graft and socket are allowed to heal over the next few months, as the bone tissue regenerates and fuses with the existing jawbone.

Socket Preservation in Preparation for Dental Implants

Socket preservation is particularly beneficial for patients planning to get dental implants in the future. This procedure ensures that the jawbone has enough density and volume to support the implant, increasing its chances of success. 

If you don’t get a bone graft at the time of extraction, you may have to undergo a more extensive and costly bone grafting procedure before getting dental implants. So even if you don’t plan on getting a dental implant right away, socket preservation is a proactive and cost-effective measure to maintain your oral health and prepare for future treatments.

Foley & Le: Your Trusted Oral Surgeons in Boulder, CO

As you can see, socket preservation is an essential procedure for maintaining your oral health and preserving the aesthetics of your smile. If you are scheduled for a tooth extraction, make sure to ask your dentist about socket preservation. If they are unable to perform this procedure, contact our team at Foley & Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 

Our experienced surgeons specialize in tooth extractions and bone grafting procedures to preserve your jawbone and maintain your beautiful smile. If you would like your dentist to refer you to Foley & Le for a tooth extraction and bone graft, have them fill out the referral form. You may also call us to book an appointment with us directly.

If you are searching for an ‘oral surgeon near me’ or an ‘oral surgeon in Boulder,’ we can help. Call (303) 444-2255 to book an appointment or complete the online inquiry form.

Additional Resources

Can I Go Straight to an Oral Surgeon? Why Choose an Oral Surgeon in Boulder

How To Relieve Pain After Tooth Extraction

50 Soft Foods to Eat After Tooth Extraction

Tooth Extraction: Healing and Aftercare

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