Preserving Your Jaw
By preserving your jawbone, you preserve your restorative choices.
There is a special type of bone surrounding your teeth. This bone is called alveolar “ridge” bone (jawbone), and it exists solely to support your teeth. As soon as the tooth is removed, this bone begins to degenerate and “melt away.” The overlying gum tissue melts away with the alveolar bone and thins out as the ridge flattens. This occurs in two dimensions. The first is loss of horizontal width caused by the collapse of the bone surrounding the socket. This makes the remaining ridge narrower than when the tooth was present. The second is a loss of vertical height. This makes the remaining bone less “tall.” This process is faster in areas where you wear a partial or complete denture.
You have many options to prevent this, and it is important that you consider them BEFORE any teeth are extracted. Some of these procedures are best performed at the time the tooth is removed.
Obviously, preventing bone loss is much easier than recreating the bone later.
When you need to have a tooth or teeth extracted, whether it be due to tooth decay, fracture, abscess, gum disease or traumatic injury, a socket site preservation is recommended to preserve as much of your underlying jawbone as possible for your future restorations.
You will have several choices for replacing the newly missing teeth. All of the options rely on bone support and bone contour for the best function and esthetics.
Here is a list of the possible options:
These are root-shaped supports that hold your replacement teeth. The more bone support you have, the stronger the implant replacements will be. In some cases, the bone can degenerate to a point where implants can no longer be placed without having more complex bone grafting procedures to create the necessary support. Obviously, preventing bone loss is much easier than recreating the bone later.
This is a restoration that is supported by the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth space. The replacement tooth (or pontic) spans across the space. If the bone is deficient, there will be an unsightly space under the pontic that will trap food and affect your speech.