Tooth Extraction And Dental Implants: Why Delaying Can Be Unwise

When extraction is the only practical course of action for your troubled tooth, your dentist will want to discuss your options for replacing it. It's a safe assumption that their first recommendation will be a dental implant. Dental implants are a prime choice, largely because they're the restoration that replicates the look and function of a natural tooth, with the implant acting as a root structure, and the prosthetic tooth replacing your missing tooth. Despite the importance of replacing a missing tooth, you might prefer to wait and think the matter over. But is this really in your best interests?

Bone Resorption

Your body is a fine-tuned machine, and this is demonstrated by the process triggered by the loss of a tooth. The part of your jaw that holds your dental sockets will register the loss and take action. Because it doesn't have to absorb the pressure the tooth is exposed to, the bone diverts key nutrients elsewhere in your body. This bone doesn't become excessively fragile, but some of its density is lost. This bone resorption is a natural process but can be a hurdle when you delay having a dental implant placed.

Lack of Density

Although your dentist might urge you to take quick action to replace your missing tooth with an implant, whether or not you proceed is entirely up to you. The problem is that if you delay too much, bone resorption must be reversed. Without sufficient bone density, the implant will lack stability. This can be overcome with bone grafting—when a tiny amount of grafting material (bone tissue from your own body, or from a donor, or a synthetic substitute) will be added to the site, which then integrates with your jaw. This isn't all that difficult, but it prolongs the whole process since you must receive an additional procedure (the grafting) and heal before the implant can be placed (which requires its own healing time). So what's the best way to proceed?

Your Options

You have two relevant options. You can opt to receive the implant at the time of extraction, so the titanium alloy implant is placed in your jaw before bone resorption can occur. The other option is a preventive measure called socket preservation. This involves a small amount of grafting material placed in the empty dental socket as part of the extraction process. It helps to prevent bone resorption and is less invasive than a dedicated bone grafting procedure.

Yes, it's likely that your dentist will recommend a dental implant to be placed soon after your tooth is extracted. If this isn't an option, for whatever reason, you should strongly consider receiving socket restoration when your tooth is extracted—greatly simplifying the dental implant process when you decide to proceed.