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A cross-sectional view of a jawbone showing the socket of a missing tooth and the surrounding bone tissue

When a tooth is extracted, the socket left behind can become infected or damaged. Socket preservation is a procedure that can help protect the socket and surrounding tissues by reducing the risk of infection and speeding up the healing process.

Socket preservation helps maintain proper jawbone structure by supporting the existing alveolar process, which is the part of the jawbone that supports the teeth. Without socket preservation, the jawbone can shrink over time, causing difficulty in speaking, an inability to eat certain foods, misalignment of teeth, and facial asymmetry.

If you need a tooth extraction, your dentist might recommend immediate socket preservation.

Why Do I Need Socket Preservation?

When you lose teeth, socket preservation might be needed to ensure the success of future treatments or procedures. To maintain adequate amounts of vertical and horizontal bone for future implant placement or other tooth replacement options, you need socket preservation at the time of tooth extraction.

Your dentist might suggest socket prevention in several cases, including:

After an Extraction

Severely decayed teeth that require an extraction may also have caused significant bone loss. When a tooth is extracted, the surrounding bone resorbs due to a lack of tooth root stimulation. Socket preservation helps reduce or prevent this bone loss, leading to decreased implant stability and success.

Before Getting Dental Implants

If you require dental implants, you need adequate bone density to support the osseointegration process around the implant post. Socket preservation before getting dental implants builds up the jawbone, ensuring it is thick and dense enough to fuse successfully with the implant.

To Support Dentures and Bridges

Socket preservation helps keep the bone structure in the jaw healthy by preventing bone loss. If the bone structure deteriorates, it can cause the dentures and bridges to become loose. Preserving the sockets can also help prevent other health problems like shifting teeth and gum disease.

What is Socket Preservation?

During a socket preservation graft, your dentist cleans out any bacteria or infection from the empty tooth socket.

The dentist then fills the empty socket with grafting tissue and growth factors to help promote the healing and regrowth of healthy bone tissue. These materials may include cadaveric dermal allografts, xenografts (bovine-derived materials), alloplastics (synthetic material), and autogenous grafts (bone harvested from elsewhere in the patient’s own body).

Once these materials are placed in the socket, they are compacted using special tools such as forceps and a mallet. Your dentist uses sutures to close the grafted area before packing it with gauze to keep it clean and protected while it heals.

Socket Preservation Aftercare

Proper aftercare ensures the socket heals properly and does not become infected. Patients should expect a recovery period of 1-2 weeks before returning to normal activities and a regular diet. Some important aftercare instructions include:

  • Avoid irritating the gums around the surgical site for at least the first week after surgery. This means no brushing, flossing, or using mouthwash in that area.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water several times daily to help keep the area clean and reduce swelling.
  • Take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor to help prevent infection.
  • Eat soft food for at least the first week after surgery. Avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods that could irritate the surgical site.
  • Follow up with your dentist as scheduled for post-operative checkups and to have your stitches removed if they are not dissolvable.

Renew Your Smile at Steger Smiles

Steger Smiles is committed to providing quality dental care in a comfortable and welcoming setting. Our office is equipped with the latest technology to ensure accurate diagnosis and successful treatments, including socket preservation and renewal treatments. Call us today at (708) 754-8090 to book an appointment.

Be proud of your smile.