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It's not uncommon for the bone that previously supported the tooth to melt away once the tooth is removed – it doesn't serve a purpose anymore. When this bone fades away, however, gaps form between the teeth, or the teeth can move out of alignment. This is why a socket preservation is typically performed at the same time as the tooth extraction itself.
Protecting the socket after a tooth extraction is very important. One reason to protect the socket is to avoid the development of a dry socket, which can form if the blood clot that protects the healing area is knocked loose, exposing the nerve beneath it.
A socket or alveolar ridge preservation procedure involves placing a bone graft into the socket, where the tooth once was. This graft can be made of synthetic materials, bone from other animals (such as cows) or human bone. After putting the graft in the socket, the dentist usually covers it up with a collagen membrane and sutures the opening to keep it closed. The goal of socket preservation is to improve the appearance of the remaining teeth and gums and to make the process of getting a dental implant (at some point down the line) less complicated.
If you have any concerns about an extraction's resulting socket, whether or not you've had a preservation procedure, reach out to your dentist at New Horizons Dental Center for advice. Call our office at 703-955-4221.