When you need to have a tooth or teeth extracted—whether it be due to decay, abscess, gum disease or injury—it is usually in your best interest to do so in a manner which preserves as much of your underlying jawbone as possible. From the time the teeth are removed, significant degeneration of the surrounding bone begins to take place. You have many options to prevent this, and it is important that you consider them BEFORE any teeth are removed. Some of these procedures are best performed at the time the tooth is removed.
As soon as the tooth is removed, surrounding bone around the tooth begins to degenerate and “melt away.” This occurs in two dimensions. The first is loss of horizontal width caused by the collapse of the bone surrounding the socket. This makes the remaining ridge narrower than when the tooth was present. The second is a loss of vertical height. This makes the remaining bone less “tall.” This process is faster in areas where you wear a partial or complete denture.
There are several types of bone grafting materials and techniques Dr. Hanookai will discuss the most appropriate one with you. After the tooth is extracted, the socket will be packed with a bone-like material and covered with a small absorbable plug or suture. Early on, the grafting material will support the tissue surrounding the socket, and in time will be replaced by new bone. This bone will be an excellent support should you choose later to have dental implant-supported replacement teeth.
Although the bone created by socket grafting supports and preserves the socket, it will not do so indefinitely. Placing dental implants four to twelve months after the extraction and socket grafting will provide the best long-lasting support for preserving your jawbone and allow you to function as before. Otherwise the graft may “melt away” or resorb over time.