A tooth is held in place in the jaw by the bone that surrounds its root. After a tooth is lost, the space its root occupied in the bone is normally filled with new bone and the gum will cover that space. However, this filling process is often not adequate and this leads to reduced bone and gum levels in the area where the tooth was lost.
This local bone/gum shrinkage, can cause esthetic and functional problems. It can make it difficult or even impossible to place a dental implant in the future, as there may not be enough bone left to hold it in a proper position. Also, if the bone/gum shrinkage is in the smile area, this could result in an unaesthetic appearance that would be difficult to hide and correct. As such, if the extracted tooth is in an esthetic zone or if the tooth will be replaced by an implant, it is advisable to do the Alveolar Ridge Preservation procedure.
During this procedure, mineral particles (artificial or natural bone) are placed in the socket right after the extraction. These particles are often covered with a small membrane to keep everything in place. This procedure allows for the reconstruction of the local bone that may have been extensively destroyed by an infection around the extracted tooth.