Reviewed by Dr. Jason Fluckiger, DMD

Socket preservation is somewhat of a misnomer, as we do not wish to preserve the socket but rather desire to preserve the width and height of the bony ridge which houses the teeth and a future implant.  

Immediately replacing a missing tooth with an implant isn’t always a feasible option for some patients, so a socket preservation bone graft is recommended to prevent further bone loss, maintain the structure of the jaw bone, and prepare the site for future dental implant.

This blog post will explain socket preservation, why it’s needed, and what the procedure entails. We will briefly discuss why it’s important to replace a missing tooth either immediately after extraction or down the line and how socket preservation can help in this process.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Socket preservation is a bone grafting procedure performed immediately after a tooth is extracted to minimize bone loss in the area surrounding the extracted tooth. This is done to preserve the structure of the jaw bone and prevent bone loss. If you are considering a dental implant in the future, this procedure will ensure you have a strong foundation for the dental implant.

The Importance of Preserving the Alveolar Ridge

When a tooth is extracted, it creates an empty space or “socket” in the jawbone. The body recognizes that there is no longer a tooth present and begins to resorb or break down the surrounding bone. Over time, this can lead to significant bone loss which can affect the stability of neighboring teeth and make it difficult to replace the missing tooth in the future.

The best case scenario when extracting a tooth is replacing it with a dental implant. The implant is surgically placed in the jaw bone and acts as a replacement tooth root, stimulating bone growth and preventing bone loss. However, dental implants are a significant investment and not always an option for every patient. That’s where socket preservation comes in.

What is Socket Preservation?

Socket preservation is a bone grafting procedure that is also known as an alveolar ridge preservation procedure. It is performed immediately after a tooth is extracted to minimize bone loss in the area surrounding the extracted tooth.

As mentioned, when a tooth is extracted, the body starts to resorb or break down the jaw bone in that area. Socket preservation helps preserve the natural contours of the jawbone, allowing for a better fit and placement of a dental implant later.

Socket preservation is still beneficial even if you don’t plan on getting a dental implant in the future. It can also aid in natural bone and gum contour which may make your bridge more cleansable. It may also lead to more smooth contours for a denture or partial denture to rest on.

The Benefits of Socket Preservation

There are several reasons why socket preservation is important following tooth extraction.

1. Prevent Bone Loss

The main reason for socket preservation is to prevent bone loss or alveolar ridge resorption, which typically occurs after tooth extraction. By filling the empty tooth socket with graft material, the socket’s shape and size are preserved, providing a stable foundation for future dental treatments such as dental implant placement.

2. Reduce Tooth Loss Complications

Tooth loss can lead to various complications, such as movement and shifting of adjacent teeth, bite issues, and an increased risk of gum disease. By preserving the alveolar ridge after extraction, these complications can be minimized. 

3. Improve Implant Placement Success Rates

Socket preservation can significantly improve the success rates of dental implant placement, as it ensures that the extracted tooth site maintains its structure and allows for optimal bone growth. This creates a stable foundation for the dental implant, increasing the chances of a successful outcome.

Socket Preservation and Dental Implants

If you are scheduled to have a tooth extracted and will not be getting a dental implant immediately, your surgeon will suggest a socket preservation graft. This has become the standard procedure for dental extractions, especially when considering future dental implant treatment.

When the jaw bone is preserved, it provides a solid foundation for dental implants to be placed in the future. If a bone graft isn’t placed at the time of extraction, the jaw bone will deteriorate, and a more significant bone graft will likely have to be placed at a later time. So, doing it at the time of extraction saves you an additional procedure and prepares you for an implant should you choose to have one.

Socket Preservation Procedure

After the tooth is extracted, the socket is filled with grafting material. There are several kinds of bone graft materials, including

  • allograft
  • autograft
  • xenograft
  • alloplast

(The most commonly used grafting material is allograft and xenograft.)

Once the grafting material is placed, it is covered with a resorbable membrane and sutured into place. The body then begins to heal, creating new bone growth in the socket area. Healing time varies, but the bone typically takes about three to six months to grow.

Is a Dental Implant Necessary After Tooth Extraction?

In some cases, a dental implant may not be necessary after tooth extraction. If the extracted tooth is in the back of the mouth and does not affect your bite or smile, you may choose to leave it as is. However, if you have lost a front tooth or if the missing tooth is affecting your bite, replacing it with a dental implant can help maintain proper oral function and prevent further complications.

We understand that dental implants are a large expense, but we like to think of it more as an investment in your oral health and overall well-being. We need our teeth to chew properly and efficiently, and a missing tooth can lead to various complications down the line. That’s why we strongly recommend considering dental implants or other restorative treatments after tooth extraction.

AZ Max Oral Surgery

Your dental implant specialists in Mesa, AZ

At AZ Max Oral Surgery, our goal is to educate you on all aspects of the tooth extraction process – from extraction to tooth replacement options. We want you to feel comfortable and confident in your treatment plan so that you can make informed decisions about your oral health.

We specialize in dental implant surgery and have the expertise to perform socket preservation at the time of tooth extraction. Our team of highly skilled surgeons uses the latest technology and techniques to ensure optimal results for each patient.

If you need a tooth extraction or would like to learn more about socket preservation and dental implants, contact AZ Max Oral Surgery & Maxillofacial Surgery today. Book a free dental implant consultation at one of our 5 locations. We have 4 offices in Phoenix East Valley and 1 in Show Low. Find a location near you and call (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form.

If you are searching for ‘dental implants near me’ or ‘an oral surgeon in Mesa, AZ,’ trust the experts at AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.