Many parts of your mouth, including your gums and jawbone, are composed of living tissue. When a tooth is extracted, a hole (or “socket”) is left behind, and the jawbone will no longer receive stimulation where the tooth was located. Due to this lack of stimulation, the living tissue will begin to shift and the jaw bone will shrink. In just the first six months, the jaw bone may reduce in volume by 30 to 60 percent! This can cause a variety of issues, and it may create complications if you decide to replace the tooth with a dental implant. To preserve the healthy socket and prevent bone loss, your dentist may recommend socket preservation.
Socket Preservation 101
What Is Socket Preservation?
During socket preservation, a dentist uses either a collagen plug or a bone grafting procedure (with a bone graft made of synthetic material, human bone, or animal bone) to fill the empty socket left by an extracted tooth. This preserves the socket in the jaw bone. After filling the socket, the dentist typically covers the hole with a layer of collagen or some other barrier membrane and sutures the gum tissue. About 30 days after the procedure, the barrier membrane is removed (or it resorbs into the tissue) and a new layer of gingiva (i.e., gum) covers the callous of bone.
Socket preservation is not necessary after every tooth extraction. If you’re interested in the procedure, discuss the pros and cons with your dentist so you can decide if it makes sense in your situation.
Socket preservation is also known as alveolar ridge preservation after the alveolar ridges, which are the two jaw ridges in the mouth. The alveolar ridges contain the sockets of the teeth.
Recovering from Socket Preservation
Following a socket preservation procedure, you will experience some pain and swelling. Follow your dentist’s advice to limit these side effects. To ensure a successful recovery, the following tips are recommended:
- Use an ice pack after surgery. Keep it on for 15 minutes, then off for 15 minutes.
- Gently rinse with warm salt water twice daily. To create the solution, mix 1 teaspoon salt into 8 ounces of water.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. Alternate between ibuprofen and Tylenol, following the directions on the containers.
- Brush gently and carefully. Avoid brushing the surgery site.
- Do not use water jets or waterpiks near the procedure site. This could disrupt the healing process.
- Stick to a soft diet for two weeks. Choose foods that don’t require a lot of chewing, like soups, yogurts, applesauce, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, etc. Avoid chewy foods, sticky foods, and hard foods.
In addition, your dentist and dental hygienist should avoid any periodontal sub-gingival scaling around the adjacent teeth for four to six months following the socket preservation procedure.
Socket preservation is a straightforward procedure, and the site should heal quickly and normally if you follow your dentist’s instructions. If you have any concerns or the pain persists, contact your dentist.
Socket preservation follows tooth extraction, and tooth extraction is typically recommended as a treatment for tooth decay, periodontal disease, crowded teeth, or damaged teeth. If you’ve been experiencing any issues with your teeth or it’s simply been a while since your last appointment, now is the time to schedule a check-up. If you live in Springfield, Missouri, please contact Wilkinson Dental today. You can request an appointment online or give us a call at 417-882-8222. We would be happy to help!