Dentists make every attempt to preserve natural teeth whenever possible. Sometimes, however, that simply isn’t the best course of action. If a tooth needs to be extracted, dental implants can sometimes help patients restore their smile to a natural and functional condition, but some patients may not be able to have dental implants added immediately. For these patients, we recommend ridge preservation.
When a tooth is lost without a dentist, two things will happen fairly quickly. First, the other teeth will become misaligned and will crowd the opening. Second, the bone beneath the missing tooth will shrink away. Some studies indicate that as much as 30-60% of the bone can be lost within six months of a tooth extraction.
A dental implant and crown can essentially replace the tooth, but sometimes an implant cannot be installed immediately. For example, if a patient has an active infection when the tooth is extracted, it is usually best not to install the implant at the same time.
Ridge preservation uses a type of bone (donor, cow, pig, or a bone graft from the patient) or a synthetic bone substitute to maintain the ridge of the gums after a tooth extraction. Once the tooth is extracted and the socket is cleaned out, the natural or synthetic bone will be placed inside the tooth socket. Usually, this will be covered with a membrane, and then the entire socket will be stitched up. Over time, the bone will usually fuse to the patient’s jawbone, and this allows the socket to be maintained until an implant can be installed.
Ridge preservation is a good option even if you don’t plan to have an implant installed. Once the bone is gone, it’s much more difficult to re-create an appropriate ridge, and it may require a complete bone graft. It may even be impossible. Having ridge preservation leaves you with more options, so that if you decide at some point in the future to have a dental implant, you’ll still be able to.
Ridge preservation can also help to prevent the socket from being colonized with bacteria, reducing your risk of infection and other socket problems after a tooth extraction. Ridge preservation will also help to maintain the structure of the jawbone, helping to maintain a natural appearance to the face.
We strongly recommend ridge preservation whenever a patient needs to have a tooth extraction. We invite you to call our Plantation dental office for more information, or for a consultation.