After a tooth extraction you’ll be left with an empty socket. The socket is the place in your jaw bone where your tooth used to be.

Sometimes an empty socket can lead to bone loss, which could threaten your other teeth. Bone loss also complicates your oral health if you ever want to get a dental implant to replace the lost tooth. Having your dentist take socket-preservation measures also helps to avoid the infamous painful “dry socket.”

If you get a tooth extracted at Capital Dental Design in Richmond, we’ll probably recommend socket preservation, too.  Contact us to get socket preservation with (or independent of) your extraction, or read on to find out more. 

When do you need socket preservation?

Socket preservation goes hand-in-hand with tooth extraction. We recommend you get socket preservation done at the same time (on the same day) as your tooth extraction.

There are benefits to moving quickly. You can experience significant bone loss in as little as six months after an extraction. 

How does socket preservation work?

Socket preservation requires a small bone graft. Either we will take a small amount of bone from elsewhere in your mouth and graft it into the socket, or we will place synthetic bone there. That encourages your body to finish growing the bone into the socket.

This bone graft is quicker, easier, and less expensive than the full bone graft you might otherwise need to restore your lost jaw bone later, if you didn’t preserve your sockets adequately. 

Does socket preservation hurt? 

Unlike a full bone graft, which is an in-depth surgical procedure, socket preservation rarely hurts, either during or after the operation. Still, some patients experience a slight throbbing sensation after the anesthesia wears off.

Dry socket is much more painful. 

How does socket preservation recovery work?

You’ll have stitches in your gum, and you’ll need to leave them alone as much as possible. If we’ve done socket preservation you should not rinse your mouth for 24 hours.

We’ll give you instructions on how to keep your mouth clean for the first 24 hours or so after surgery. As with your tooth extraction, we’ll either give you a clinical mouthwash or suggest rinsing with warm salt water.

For 48 hours after the surgery you shouldn’t brush that area.  After 48 hours has passed you should use only a soft-bristle brush for the next two weeks or so.

Do not smoke for at least two weeks after the procedure.  (Speaking of which, this may be a good time to quit altogether.)

You might get antibiotics to reduce the threat of infection. Take as directed.

Remember to relax for at least a day after the procedure. While you’re relaxing, eat soft foods. One easy way to do that is to make high-protein smoothies with fruit and protein powder. The protein and nutrients will help the bone grow. Drink lots of water, too. Just don’t use a straw; straws can disturb the socket area.

You’ll receive a full set of instructions after your surgery. Make sure you understand and follow all of them.

Is socket preservation covered by insurance?

Not all insurance companies cover socket preservation, but some do. Check your plan for details, or ask our helpful front-desk staff.

It’s not an expensive procedure, but you’ll always know exactly what your out-of-pocket expense will be before we begin. 

Contact Capital Dental Design today to preserve your sockets and keep your jaw healthy.