Socket Preservation Procedure

Preserving Your Jaw Bone after Extraction

Teeth removed through surgical extractions leave behind a small hole where the previous tooth resided. The socket will be very sensitive immediately after extraction which is one reason you may be recommended socket preservation but protecting the space after extraction is important for several reasons.

Avoiding a Dry Socket

The first reason to protect the socket is to avoid the development of a dry socket, which can form if the blood clot that protects the healing area is knocked loose by some force and exposes the nerve beneath it. By protecting the socket, you also preserve the alveolar ridge which is the strip of bone that surrounds the roots of teeth in which they are attached to.

What Socket Preservation Does

It’s not uncommon for the bone that previously supported the tooth to deteriorate into nothingness once the tooth is removed as it doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. Gaps form between the teeth or the teeth can move out of alignment when this bone fades away. This is why a socket preservation is typically performed at the same time as the tooth extraction itself.

A socket or alveolar ridge preservation procedure involves placing a bone graft into the socket, where the tooth once was. This graft can be made of synthetic materials or cadaver bone from animals (such as cows) or human bone. After putting the graft in the socket, it is covered up with a collagen membrane and then the opening is sutured close.

Do You Need It?

The goal of socket preservation is to improve the appearance of the remaining teeth and gums and to make the process of getting a dental implant less complicated. Research suggests a shift when it comes to alveolar ridge preservation; socket preservation procedures help reduce horizontal or vertical alterations in the alveolar ridge near the site of a tooth extraction.

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Care After Extraction

Protecting your gumline and improving your comfort as the socket heals is done by taking good care of the area around the socket. You may be asked to avoid brushing your teeth, even with an extra-soft toothbrush for at least a day after the extraction. You’ll also want to avoid any activity that can create added pressure in your mouth – such as smoking cigarettes or using a straw – for some time after the tooth extraction. Much like hard foods, these items can knock the blood clot out, leading to a dry socket.

If you have any concerns about an extraction’s resulting socket, whether or not you’ve had a preservation procedure, don’t be afraid to reach out to us for advice. Dr. Hashemian can tell you what to do if there is excessive bleeding or if you’re in too much pain. Tooth extraction and alveolar ridge preservation are straightforward procedures, and as long as you take Dr. Hashemian’s advice seriously, you should recover without any problems.

The jawbone immediately begins reshaping and re-contouring the minute a tooth is extracted. The body is a very efficient machine, and it doesn’t like to waste resources. Socket preservation is the technique Dr. Hashemian uses to counteract this natural occurrence.  

When we extract a tooth from the jaw, the alveolar ridge – the strip of bone that surrounds the roots of teeth – begins to break down. The body recognizes the tooth is gone, so it goes to work breaking down useless material to conserve energy, materials, and blood supply. Unfortunately, the alveolar ridge can’t be replaced without surgical intervention. So, Dr. Hashemian uses socket preservation – a form of bone grafting – to protect and preserve this essential ridge and the surrounding bone tissue until dental implants are inserted and established into the jawbone.  

What Happens During Socket Preservation? 

Socket preservation is a type of bone grafting procedure designed to protect the alveolar ridge and empty tooth socket from breaking down – simultaneously creating a stronger support system for the dental implant that will be put into place down the road. In addition to protecting the tooth socket from inevitable bone erosion, socket preservation can also help correct or amend some deformities that may exist in the alveolar ridge or socket. 

Once the socket preservation procedure is complete, the patient’s existing teeth – as well as the bone gaps between the teeth – remain firmly in place and are less susceptible to bone loss. While socket preservation can be done using synthetic materials, we prefer to use the patient’s own bone (or matching donor bone from a tissue bank) for the procedure. If we use your own bone material, we’ll harvest it from elsewhere in the jaw or the hip.  

After we’ve placed the bone graft into the socket, we cover it with a special collagen membrane. In addition to protecting the socket and the newly placed graft, this special membrane dissolves and “nourishes” the bone graft, encouraging it to regenerate more quickly and solidly. 

What can happen if I don’t get a socket preservation? 

If you skip this step, and don’t have a dental implant put in place immediately, your teeth can and will move in unpredictable ways. Once the jawbone begins to deteriorate, the surrounding mouth tissues are affected. This can cause teeth to shift and move in any direction. You can wind up with small gaps that become large ones, or go from having no gaps in your teeth to having visible gaps.  

While the shape of your mouth and your smile are certainly important, this deterioration of jawbone and the movement of teeth in the jaw and gums can cause longstanding health issues. These result in your inability to bite and chew food properly, not to mention the higher risk of cavities and/or gingivitis since gaps between teeth or crooked teeth make it easier for bacteria to settle in.  

Does dental insurance cover the cost of bone grafting for socket preservation? 

All dental plans are different. Most insurance companies are beginning to partially or fully cover the costs of socket preservation as a result of the emerging evidence. That being said, not all dental plans are considered equal. Our office staff will contact your insurance company to find out what is and isn’t covered so you can plan your procedure(s) accordingly after your consultation. 

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