Socket Preservation

The goal of periodontal therapy is to save existing teeth and to replace missing teeth.  During the course of treatment, however, we may identify periodontally untreatable teeth or other teeth requiring removal.  Removing teeth may be necessary because of an infection or bone loss caused by periodontal disease.

The bone that holds the tooth in place (the socket) is often damaged by periodontal disease and/or infection resulting in shrinkage of the bone when the tooth is removed.  This shrinkage of bone can create significant irregularities in the shape of tissue where the tooth previously was.  This can make treatment with implants, fixed bridges or removable dentures difficult or even impossible to do.

Shrinkage of the bone can be prevented and repaired by a procedure called “Socket Preservation”.  The technique involves placement of a bone graft material in the tooth socket after the tooth has been removed, as well as placement of a biocompatible barrier membrane over the bone graft.  The gum tissue is then closed over the bone graft and barrier membrane.  Eventually both the bone graft and barrier membrane are resorbed (dissolved) by the body.  Before this occurs, they facilitate your body’s natural ability to repair itself by regenerating lost bone and tissue.  It usually takes approximately six months before the newly regenerated bone is mature (hard) enough to allow placement of an implant.  However, in some cases, temporary restorations can be provided at the same time the tooth is extracted and the socket is preserved to maximize esthetics, comfort and function.