Socket preservation, also known as alveolar ridge preservation, is a dental procedure performed immediately after tooth extraction to maintain the bone structure and density of the empty socket. When a tooth is removed, the surrounding bone can resorb or deteriorate over time. Socket preservation helps prevent this bone loss and provides a stable foundation for future dental treatments, such as dental implants.

Why Is Socket Preservation Needed?

After a tooth is extracted, the bone that once supported the tooth may begin to deteriorate due to lack of stimulation. This can lead to a reduction in bone volume and affect the overall aesthetics and functionality of your smile. Socket preservation is essential to:

  • Maintain Bone Structure: It prevents the collapse of the socket, preserving the natural contours of your jawbone.
  • Prepare for Dental Implants: If you plan to get dental implants in the future, socket preservation ensures that you have sufficient bone for successful implant placement.
  • Improve Aesthetics: Socket preservation helps prevent the sunken appearance that can occur when bone loss affects the facial structure.

The Socket Preservation Procedure

Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction is the initial phase of the socket preservation procedure, and it plays a critical role in ensuring the success of the subsequent steps. Dr Javier approaches tooth extraction with precision and care, prioritizing your comfort throughout the process.

With the area is sufficiently numb, we carefully extract the tooth using specialized instruments. The extraction process varies depending on the tooth’s condition and location. For instance, extracting a front tooth may involve a different technique than removing a molar.

During the extraction, we are cautious to preserve the surrounding bone and soft tissues. This careful approach is vital as it sets the stage for the subsequent socket preservation steps.

Socket Preservation

Following tooth extraction, the socket preservation phase begins. This step is crucial for maintaining the bone structure and preventing resorption, which can occur when a socket is left empty after tooth removal.

Socket Cleaning

The empty socket is meticulously cleaned to remove any residual tissue, debris, or infection. Cleaning the socket ensures a clean slate for the socket preservation procedure.

Graft Material Placement

Once the socket is clean, our surgeons select an appropriate graft material based on your specific needs and the treatment plan established during your initial consultation. The graft material serves as a scaffold to promote the growth of new bone.

There are various graft material options:

  • Autograft: This involves using a small amount of bone harvested from another area of your body, typically the jawbone or hip. Autografts are considered the gold standard as they are biocompatible and offer excellent integration potential.
  • Allograft: Allograft material is sourced from a donor, processed to eliminate any risk of disease transmission, and sterilized for safety. Allografts are a suitable alternative when using your bone is not feasible.
  • Xenograft or Synthetic Graft: Xenografts are derived from animal sources (e.g., bovine or porcine bone) and processed to be biocompatible. Synthetic graft materials consist of biocompatible substances designed to encourage new bone growth.

Membrane Placement (if necessary)

In some cases, a barrier membrane may be placed over the graft material to protect it and enhance bone regeneration. The membrane acts as a shield, preventing soft tissue from invading the healing area and promoting optimal bone growth.


After graft material placement (and membrane placement if necessary), our surgeons meticulously suture the surgical site closed. The sutures used are typically absorbable, which means they will dissolve naturally over time, eliminating the need for suture removal.

Suturing serves multiple purposes:

  • It helps ensure that the graft material remains in place, providing stability for bone regeneration.
  • It seals the surgical site, reducing the risk of infection.
  • It promotes proper healing and minimizes the potential for complications.

The careful and precise suturing technique is a critical aspect of socket preservation, as it sets the stage for successful healing and bone regeneration.

Socket preservation is recommended when tooth extraction involves teeth that are visible in your smile and when you plan to replace the extracted tooth with a dental implant. However, the necessity of socket preservation is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Socket preservation is often performed in conjunction with tooth extraction, adding minimal additional time to the overall procedure. The entire process typically takes about 30-60 minutes.

Socket preservation is performed under local anesthesia, ensuring that you do not experience pain during the procedure. Postoperatively, some discomfort is common but can be managed with prescribed medications.

The timing for dental implant placement after socket preservation varies but can be immediate. Our surgeons will evaluate the healing progress and determine the optimal time for implant placement.

Socket preservation can be performed in cases of pre-existing infections, but the infection must be addressed and resolved before the procedure. Our surgeons may prescribe antibiotics or perform a thorough cleaning of the infected area before proceeding with socket preservation. Successful infection control is essential for the procedure’s long-term success.

Yes, socket preservation can be performed on multiple teeth simultaneously if needed. This is often done when several adjacent teeth require extraction, and the patient plans to replace them with dental implants or similar restorations. Our surgeons can tailor the procedure to address the specific requirements of each extraction site.

Our Socket Preservation Expert Dr Javier Perez


Dr Javier Perez

Dental Implant and Oral Surgeon
Lic Odont, PG Cert (Implant), MClinDent (Implant), Dip Oral Surg RCS (Eng), PG Cert Cons Sed
GDC No: 225487
Special interest in Oral Surgery & Dental Implants

Dr Javier Perez graduated in dental surgery in 2010.

His clinical practice is focused on dental implants and oral surgery, from simple single tooth replacements to complex reconstructions involving both soft and hard tissues.

Dr Javier has completed a Masters in Implant Dentistry MClinDent (Implant) in London over three years and was awarded a diploma in Oral Surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, one of the most prestigious colleges in UK.
Dr Perez has trained in Oral Surgery at the Maxillofacial Unit in the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in South England. He is at the forefront of dental implants and oral surgery regularly attending National and International conferences to develop his skills and learn about the latest trends in Implantology.

At Dulwich Dental our implant team have placed over 5000 implants, often undertaking and being referred cases from other practioners. We also consult and treat cases where you may have been told that you are unsuitable for dental implants. Having assembled one of the countries leading dental implant teams we can treat the most advanced and complex cases here at Dulwich Dental Office.

Outside of work Dr Javier spends the majority of his time with his young family, recently welcoming a new son (October, 2021). He enjoys spending weekends exploring London, especially going to local food markets.


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