A bone graft or socket preservation is vital in the dental implant process — learn how it impacts your dental health below. 

If you’re scheduled for a dental implant procedure there are likely a variety of questions you have swirling around in your mind, and of course the nerves of coming in for this procedure. 

We’ve written on dental implants in a couple of posts that you can explore and they include:

Why Choose an Oral Surgeon for Dental Implants?

The Benefits of Dental Implants

To go deeper and explain dental implants even further, let’s examine the role of socket preservation and why it’s important. 

At the Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery, we want to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of all the oral surgeries we perform because we know that the more our patients understand, the better the healing outcome will be! Join us as we look at what a socket preservation is and why it’s important in today’s post!

After The Extraction

What we always explain to patients is that we try and preserve a tooth but if there is too much tooth decay or dental trauma, a tooth extraction, followed by dental appliances is the next option if the tooth — or teeth — cannot be preserved. 

After you’ve had the extraction you may hear a couple of words from the oral surgeon or staff talk about and those might be socket preservation or ridge augmentation

So, what is socket preservation?

When a tooth is extracted, it will leave behind a socket in the alveolar ridge bone that leaves it susceptible to shrinkage and losing structure in the jaw. When bone preservation doesn’t occur, some research has indicated that a patient can experience bone loss of up to 50% in the first year following the initial extraction.  

You may be wondering why bone loss matters, but in terms of your jaw and facial structure, it matters significantly. When you begin to lose bone it spawns a variety of oral health issues including: 

Affecting your aesthetics – When teeth are missing your jaw can begin to cave and your skin can appear shriveled and over time your smile may become more asymmetrical. 

Teeth alignment concerns – Your teeth are constantly moving and shifting, especially when there are open spaces such as right after an extraction. Your teeth may begin to shift immediately and if it’s not addressed this affects your smile and you may need orthodontics down the line. 

Complications with your implants – If the socket is not preserved right away this may complicate and delay the chances to replace the missing tooth with a dental implant. 

Because your dental health is impacted when a socket is left open, this is the reason socket prevention is the standard after a tooth extraction. 

Socket Preservation

Typically socket preservation occurs following a tooth extraction. Your oral surgeon will place a device in the socket that can range from bone to a metal post, filling the socket space. Once the space is filled, it is then covered with a collagen film and then sutures it to keep it closed and protected from debris and bacteria. 

Socket Preservation Care

During the interim for your dental implant, it’s important to properly care for your socket after the extraction as the site heals. Because the area will be tender, you may want to avoid brushing the area for the first day or two. You’ll also want to avoid smoking or drinking through a straw because they can affect the site and possibly cause a dry socket.

Dental Implants After Socket Preservation

Once you’re ready to remove the socket preservation piece and get the dental implant, you’re well into your journey, but there are a couple more steps including:

  • The dental implant placement surgery
  • The abutment placement (the connecting piece that joins the implants and crown)
  • Restoring your teeth with new, artificial teeth

The entire dental implant process can take several months to over a year depending on what needs to be addressed, and the socket preservation is just one step in this journey to a healthy, restored smile.

For more information on what a socket preservation entails at our clinic or to learn more about dental implants, connect with us today!