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Preserving Your Jawbone After Extraction

Removal of teeth is sometimes necessary because of pain, infection, bone loss or fracture of the tooth. The bone that holds the tooth in place (the socket) is often damaged by disease and/or infection, resulting in deformity of the jaw after the tooth is extracted. In addition, when teeth are extracted, the surrounding bone and gums can shrink and recede very quickly after the extraction, resulting in unsightly defects and collapse of the lips and cheeks.

adult male smiling

The Importance of Socket Preservation

Jaw defects following a tooth extraction can create major problems in performing restorative dentistry, whether your treatment involves dental implants, bridges, or dentures. Jaw deformities from tooth removal can be prevented and repaired by a procedure called ridge augmentation, which helps to recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss as a result of a tooth extraction.

woman smiling

About Ridge Augmentation

The alveolar ridge of the jaw is the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth. When a tooth is removed, an empty socket is left in the alveolar ridge bone. Usually, this empty socket will heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue. Sometimes when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks and it is unable to heal on its own. The previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate.

Rebuilding the original height and width of the alveolar ridge is not medically necessary but may be required for dental implant placement or for aesthetic purposes. Dental implants require bone to support their structure and a ridge augmentation can help rebuild this bone to accommodate the implant.

How Is a Ridge Augmentation Accomplished?

A ridge augmentation is accomplished by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket. It is often done immediately after the tooth is removed. Next, the gum tissue is placed over the socket and secured with sutures. Your doctor may choose to use a space-maintaining product over the top of the graft to help restore the height and width of the space created by the tooth and bone loss, and into which new bone should grow. Once the socket has healed, the alveolar ridge can be prepared for dental implant placement.

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