When one or more teeth are extracted from the mouth, soft tissue and bone can begin to collapse. Without the tooth root to stimulate it, the surrounding jawbone will almost immediately begin to collapse and shrink. If there is too much bone loss, it may be impossible to place dental implants and even difficult to place a bridge that has both a natural appearance and can be kept clean and healthy. Ridge (or Socket) preservation is a type of bone grafting procedure that rebuilds and stabilizes bone where an extraction has left an empty, weakened socket.
The ideal time for ridge preservation is when the tooth is extracted. By gently removing the tooth, carefully cleaning out debris and infection and then filling the site with a bone grafting material the patient has the best chance to maintain both the height and width of the ridge. The graft is protected by a membrane and the site is closed with a few stitches. The site is closely monitored for good healing the first few weeks and within 4 to 6 months is usually ready for the dental implant.
Ridge preservation can essentially minimize the amount of bone loss that occurs after the removal of one or more teeth. Leaving the socket empty after an extraction often leads to deteriorating bone in the jaw and a loss of the natural contour of the ridge. Preserving the normal, natural architecture of the gum and bone makes it easier to replace the tooth in a way that both functions well, can be easily cleaned and looks like a natural tooth.
Ridge preservation is also:
- Minimally invasive with minimal discomfort
- Prepares the site for future placement of a dental implant, often without additional grafting
- More cost effective than having a second surgery later to rebuild the bone
- Preserves a natural looking smile