When one or more teeth are extracted from the mouth, soft tissue and bone can begin to collapse. Without the tooth root to stimulate it, the surrounding jawbone will almost immediately begin to collapse and shrink. If there is too much bone loss, it may be impossible to place dental implants and it may become more expensive, more invasive, more time consuming, and more uncomfortable to replace the lost bone. Ridge (or Socket) preservation is a type of bone grafting procedure that rebuilds and stabilizes bone where an extraction has left an empty, weakened socket.
Ridge preservation procedures begin with the removal of the tooth. The doctor will do so carefully so as to not disturb existing bone in the socket. Next, the doctor will insert a specialized bone-grafting product. This product can be an autogenous graft, allograft, or alloplast/xenograft. The bone-grafting material is designed to build and regrow bone in the socket. After it has been placed, the grafting material will be stabilized with stitches and/or a membrane. Healing time is approximately 3-5 months before a dental implant can be placed.
Ridge preservation can essentially minimize the amount of bone loss that occurs after the removal of one or more teeth. Leaving the socket empty after an extraction is sure to lead to deteriorating bone in the jaw, making it more difficult to place an implant later.