There are cases where our capabilities do not allow us to save some teeth. This may be because the tooth has a bad prognosis or because the treatment required is complex and the patient decides not to follow it. So we are forced to extract the tooth in question. The important thing is what happens after the extraction.
The bone of our jaws is dynamically changing depending on its use. So, if at some point a tooth need to be removed then the bone that supports it will start to resorb. This has to do with the overall “cell & tissue economy“, a fundamental feature of all living organisms. In other words, the bone that does not support a tooth has no reason to be maintained, and hence will gradually be resorbed. The important issue that comes into play is the fact that an extraction is a process where mechanisms that ultimately cause bone resorption will be activated.
Research shows that following an extraction, within the first 3 months up to 30% of the supporting bone may be lost, while at 6 months even up to 50% of the bone may be resorbed. This can make future restoration of the area difficult or impossible, especially when trying to place an implant.
The solution is a procedure called “socket preservation”. Immediately after extraction the empty tooth socket is filled with bone graft and covered with a special membrane. The result is the rebuilding the bone within the socket and maintaining the dimensions of the alveolar ridge in the respective area. These dimensions remain stable for a number of years and so we have the ability to place an implant at a later time, if so desired. Even if we decide to restore the missing tooth with a conventional prosthesis, such as a bridge, the ability to preserve the volume of bone enables us to present a more natural and aesthetic effect, avoiding unsightly gaps and concavities that may form over time due to bone resorption.