One component of extraction site preservation is making sure that there is enough bone present widthwise and lengthwise. A rule of thumb for eventual successful implant placement is that the bone width be 5mm or greater and the bone length be 10 mm or greater. Once a tooth is extracted the socket will fill in with bone to some extent. If an implant is not placed in a reasonable amount of time the socket will narrow significantly and the bone dimensions will decrease to the point that a root form implant cannot be placed without extensive bone grafting. In order to ensure that enough bone exists in an extraction site for future implant placement, it is recommended that the dentist graft bone into the extraction site once a tooth is removed.
**Warning: The following link contains pictures of an actual surgery**
Click here to see pictures of a bone graft performed at Mount Hope Dental.
The other component of extraction site preservation is maintaining the space that the extracted tooth once occupied. A unilateral space maintainer may be placed. A band is placed around one tooth adjacent to the extraction site with a wire extension extending to the other tooth adjacent to the extraction site. Placing a unilateral space maintainer will make sure that the adjacent teeth next to the etraction site will stay upright and not tip into the extraction site space.
Below are pictures of a space maintainer.