When one or more teeth are extracted from the mouth, soft tissue and bone can begin to regress or collapse. Without the tooth root to stimulate it, the surrounding jaw bone will often begin to deteriorate shortly following the loss of a tooth. If there is significant bone loss, it may be impossible to place dental implants and may become more expensive, invasive, and time consuming to replace the lost bone. Loss of bone can lead to depressions or unevenness within the ridge, as its form is supported by the contour of the underlying bone. Ridge (or socket) preservation is a type of bone grafting procedure that rebuilds and stabilizes bone where an extraction has left an empty socket. It is recommended to have a ridge preservation procedure performed at the time of an extraction, as it helps to promote the esthetics of the ridge and avoid bony defects.
Ridge preservation procedures ideally begin with the removal of the tooth. The doctor will perform the extraction carefully so as to not disturb existing bone in the socket. Next, the doctor will place a specialized bone grafting product. This product can be an autogenous graft, allograft, or alloplast or xenograft material. The bone grafting material is designed to replace bone and stimulate bone growth in the socket. After it has been placed, the grafting material will be stabilized with sutures and possibly a collagen membrane. Healing time is approximately three to five 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 likely to lead to deteriorating bone in the jaw, making it more difficult to place an implant later. This procedure is designed to prevent the collapsing of bone and soft tissue in the sockets.