Gerald S. Fine, D.D.S.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
A few weeks ago an anxious young woman was referred to my office to remove a fractured central incisor tooth. The patient had slipped on ice after our latest snow storm and had lacerated her upper lip and had fractured her tooth. The patient's tooth was non-restorable and she was very concerned about her future appearance.
I explained to her that after I removed the tooth I would graft bone into the tooth socket. The placement of bone for both socket preservation as well as soft tissue preservation created an environment in which an aesthetically pleasing dental implant could be placed. My patient immediately became calmer. She told me that when she had been writing her thesis as a graduate student she had worked closely with her faculty advisor. The Professor had an anterior bridge and there was a prominent "gap" between, "the gum and the tooth". She admitted to me that she found herself staring at the "gap" in the front of his mouth. It left an indelible image which was the source of her anxiety.
Thousands of teeth are extracted annually because of decay, periodontal disease, infection, or as in this case, trauma. The alveolar bone which supports teeth often resorbs following tooth removal. Such bone resorption can result in significant cosmetic or functional defects. Socket preservation can either totally prevent or greatly reduce the bone and soft tissue loss that normally occurs after a tooth extraction.
Healing normally occurs uneventfully after a tooth extraction. However, even with completely normal healing, there is often some resorption of the surrounding bone, resulting in less height and width than was present initially. Unfortunately, as the bone resorbs, the overlying gingival tissue also loses normal anatomic form. Although these changes can occur anywhere that a tooth has been extracted, the most severe loss of alveolar bone and associated gingival tissue is the anterior region of the mouth. This loss of bone often results in both functional and cosmetic defects as well as often compromises the dentist's ability to adequately replace the tooth.
Today, the loss of bone and gingival tissue following tooth removal can be greatly reduced or completely eliminated. An allograft of cancellous and cortical bone placed within the extraction socket not only supports new bone growth, but also has been shown to preserve bone and overlying soft tissue.
This procedure is usually performed at the time of the extraction and is without any discomfort.
Together, you and I can preserve your patient's smile.
Gerald S. Fine, D.D.S.
Practice limited to oral & maxillofacial surgery