The importance of socket preservation after tooth extraction

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While there is a replacement for baby, or primary teeth, once a permanent tooth is lost, it’s gone forever. For this reason, dentists do all they can to treat a patient’s oral health condition without extracting teeth. However, tooth extraction isn’t always avoidable. In fact, cases such as those involving wisdom teeth and abscessed teeth often require tooth or teeth extraction.

In the past, tooth extraction was an unpleasant and agonizing experience. In modern dentistry, with great technological advancements, tooth extraction is now a safe, routine procedure that often involves little pain during recovery.

The extraction of a tooth requires a recovery time whereby much care is needed. After a tooth has been extracted, a hole, called a socket, will be present. This indentation in the gum line marks where the tooth was. With no tooth covering the socket, nerve endings and part of the jawbone then become exposed.

The body’s natural response to a tooth extraction is to create a blood clot over the now vacant socket. The blood clot initiates the healing process of the gum, bone and other tissue of the affected area. The clot also provides a protective barrier of the now exposed nerve endings and jawbone during the healing and recovery process.

When a tooth that is not a wisdom tooth is extracted, severe oral health conditions can occur if the socket isn’t preserved. Dental implants are the most common ways to preserve vacant sockets. Without implants, the nerves, tissue and bone of the socket can become compromised. Furthermore, the compromised bone of the socket can weaken additional bone tissue of the jaw.

The socket marks where a tooth was and each tooth in the mouth has its own space. When a tooth is extracted and its corresponding socket isn’t preserved, the surrounding teeth can gradually move into that empty spot, causing crooked teeth and a misaligned bite.

The socket will need to additionally need to be preserved in cases where a dental implant will be inserted into the lost tooth’s place. For implants, adequate jawbone density will be necessary for the implant to be securely attached. After a tooth extraction, the soft tissue of the gums and nerves as well as the bone tissue of the jaw are weakened and are in the initial stages of healing and rebuilding. Soft tissue recovers faster than bone tissue, which means a patient must wait sometime after their tooth extraction to have a dental implant replacement tooth inserted.

One way to speed up this socket preservation process is the use of bone grafts to stimulate bone growth. The sooner the socket heals and is ready for an implant, the less chances there are for complications and future dental health problems.

It is estimated that implant dentistry will grow in popularity and demand over the next 10 years, making it vitally important for dentists to become familiar with socket preservation bone grafting procedures.

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