Having a tooth extraction of one or more teeth is a very common dental procedure, yet few people understand the importance of bone and socket preservation after the fact. Every day thousands of patients have a tooth extracted due to periodontal disease, infection, or trauma. While tooth extraction is straightforward, what happens inside the tooth socket after extraction can vary from patient to patient.
Read on to learn about the importance of bone and socket preservation after tooth extraction.
How Tooth Extraction Impacts the Jaw Bone
The alveolar, or jaw bone, supports the teeth and is a soft and vascular bone. When a tooth is lost or extracted, the alveolar bone often shrinks away or resorbs. When this occurs, a patient can experience cosmetic changes or functional defects. In addition to bone loss, the overlying gum tissue can lose volume and form.
While patients may be most bothered by an unsightly collapsed appearance, an oral surgeon may be most hindered in adequately replacing the missing tooth. Conventional bridgework and newer approaches like dental implants require a certain amount of healthy bone and gum tissue for the best result.
Bone and Gum Tissue Preservation With Dental Implants
New advances in dental technology have provided a means for many patients to solve the problem of missing teeth, bone loss, and tooth restoration through dental implants. When a tooth is lost, an oral surgeon can replace the tooth root with a titanium root replacement. This replacement fills in the area left void by the original tooth root, thereby eliminating future bone loss. A new replacement tooth is then affixed to the post and the patient’s smile is fully restored. The process of dental implants is a solution that can last a lifetime and prevent bone and gum deterioration.
Bone and Gum Tissue Preservation Through Grafting
For some patients, a dental infection or structural abnormality leads their oral surgeon to recommend a bone graft as the best first step for bone and gum tissue preservation. Several options for bone grafting exist and your oral surgeon will give you the best advice as to which type matches your needs.
- Alveolar Ridge Preservation Graft: This type of graft involves placing a bioengineered material, similar to human bone, into the tooth socket. The graft material, called a xenograft, supports bone growth through a process called guided tissue regeneration. New bone is formed and the graft is actually absorbed by new, healthy bone. Patients generally must wait three to six months after this type of graft before they can have an implant done.
- Autogenous Graft: Some patients require a more extensive repair or replacement of bone from tooth loss. With this type of graft, a block of bone is harvested from the patient’s lower jaw or chin and grafted into the jaw. The grafted bone is secured with small screws. Healing time with this type of graft is generally around four months.
- Subantral Graft: This procedure is also called a sinus lift. When bone grafting is necessary in the upper jaw or mandible, special considerations must be made because of the presence of the maxillary sinus in close proximity to the bone structure. This necessary space must be maintained when placing implants in the upper jaw. Oral surgeons can expertly and safely create a small cavity that can filled with a grafting material. A six to nine month healing period is required before further work can be done.
Bone and socket preservation after tooth extraction is an important issue to discuss with your oral surgeon. The team at Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah is trained to specifically address your needs after a tooth extraction, contact our professional staff today to set up an appointment.