So you have a tooth that isn’t savable and needs to be extracted. Do you need a bone graft when the tooth is extracted, or should you just pull the tooth and be done with it? Bone grafting the socket at the time of extraction has a lot of benefits.
When a tooth is extracted it leaves a socket that fills up with a blood clot. Eventually bone begins to replace the clot, but it never heals to the height and width of surrounding bone. This leaves a bony ridge that is both narrower and shorter than the surrounding tissue. The picture above shows just how deficient a ridge can become.
Most of the bone loss after an extraction happens in the first two to three years. Studies show that in this timeframe that 50% of the ridge width is lost and 40% of the ridge height is lost. This has consequences if you ever wish to replace the tooth, whether with an implant, bridge or removable denture or partial.
An implant can only be placed in sites that have a healthy amount of bone. If a bone graft was placed at the time of extraction, an implant can usually be placed without complications. However, many extraction sites that aren’t grafted become very deficient. If you plan to place an implant at the site of an extraction, a bone graft should almost always be placed.
If you plan on placing a bridge over the extraction site, a bone graft can be beneficial. Without a graft, the tissue will resorb over time, creating a space between the ridge and the bridge. If the bridge is in the back of the mouth no one will see it, but food may become caught in the space. If the bridge is visible when you smile, it will look like a black space under the bridge. A bone graft at the time of extraction will prevent this space from ever forming.
Finally, a bone graft can even be helpful if you replace the missing tooth with a removable partial or denture. Shrunken and resorbed ridges are difficult to fit well with a removable appliance. A thick ridge of bone usually gives a tighter fit with greater comfort for the patient.
If you need a North Scottsdale dentist and would like to know if a bone graft would be right for you, give Enamor Dentistry a call! Dr. Melander will give you a consultation and answer any questions you have about extractions and bone grafts.