Bone grafting after tooth removal: Why, when, and what to use
Dr. Scott Froum discusses tooth extraction prevalence in the US and offers a decision matrix to clarify when bone grafting is needed and the best type of material for site preservation.
Scott Froum, DDS
Tooth extraction is a common practice in the United States, with a prevalence of roughly 50% of adults in the age range of 20–64 having at least one tooth extracted.1 The normal pattern of bone healing following tooth extraction is resorptive, typically leaving both hard- and soft-tissue defects in the alveolus without site preservation and/or tissue grafting.2 This is problematic for various reasons. Loss of tissue structure in the jaw directly affects the functional and esthetic outcomes of dental implants as well as tooth-borne fixed prosthetics (dental bridges).
Why bone grafting?
Although unpredictable, a greater amount of alveolar ridge loss following extraction usually occurs in the horizontal dimension and affects the buccal bone of the ridge.3 In fact, 50% of alveolar bone dimension can be lost after tooth extraction, with losses reported of up to 6–7 mm (figure 1). Two-thirds of this loss of bone volume can occur within the first three months of tooth extraction.4
Loss of vertical ridge height can also occur and usually takes place along the buccal aspect of the ridge to a lesser degree than horizontal ridge loss.5 Corresponding reductions in vertical ridge height ranging from 2–4 mm have been noted.6 The combination of this resorptive pattern results in a ridge that has moved in a palatal/lingual direction and has atrophied vertically (figure 2).
These alveolar bone changes often compromise implant placement due to thin bone volume (figures 3–6).
Reduction in quantity and quality of bone can also compromise functional and esthetic outcomes of both implants and fixed bridge restorations (figures 7 and 8).
When to use bone grafting?
Because of this alveolar resorptive pattern after tooth extraction, bone grafting the extraction socket after tooth extraction procedures has become a solution that attempts to limit the amount of hard- and soft-tissue loss. There are many systematic reviews in the literature that compare the results of residual ridge dimension following tooth extraction after the use of a bone graft (with or without a membrane) versus extraction alone without grafting.7 Sockets that were preserved with bone grafting and/or membrane on average lost 2 mm less of ridge width, 1 mm less of ridge height, and had 20% more bone volume when compared to sockets that were not grafted.8 Maxillary sites lost more than mandibular sites, and most ridge resorption occurred on the buccal aspect of the ridge.
Indications for bone grafting extraction sites include:
• site development to increase hard and soft tissue for pontic sites in fixed bridge prosthetics (figures 9–14);
• rebuilding defects around adjacent teeth after extracting teeth due to periodontal disease (figures 15–17);
• correcting bone defects impinging upon anatomical structures after tooth extraction, such as oroantral communication (figure 18); and
• preserving tissue structure for subsequent dental implant therapy.
With these indications in mind, does every extraction socket need to be grafted? The answer is no. A good decision matrix is based on “A Simplified Socket Classification and Repair Technique” by Elian et al.9
Classification when existing tooth is still present
Type 1 socket—Buccal plate present and soft tissue present
• Type 1a socket (figure 19)—Thick biotype, posterior tooth, and buccal plate present: no graft needed
• Type 1b socket (figure 20)—Thick biotype, anterior tooth, and buccal plate present: clot stabilizer
• Type 1c socket (figure 21)—Thin biotype, anterior or posterior, and buccal plate present: bone graft
• Type 2 socket (figures 22 and 23)—Buccal plate missing, but soft tissue present: bone graft +/- membrane (if graft containment is needed)
• Type 3 socket (figure 24)—Buccal plate missing and soft tissue missing: bone graft + membrane +/- biologic agent (consider soft-tissue graft if keratinized tissue is less than 2 mm)
What bone grafting product?
Although there are many types of grafting products commercially available, choosing the right one may be difficult. An ideal bone graft substitute should be biomechanically stable; able to degrade within an appropriate time frame; exhibit osteoconductive, osteogenic, and osteoinductive properties; and provide a favorable environment for invading blood vessels and bone-forming cells.10 The graft material used should facilitate the three tenets of bone regeneration: clot stability, space maintenance, and blood supply/bone-forming cells.11 Unfortunately, many clinicians assume all grafting products are created equal and select the material based on price point alone. If the bone grafting material is not formulated correctly, degradation may not occur, and the graft can become fibrously encapsulated, leading to poor bone turnover and graft failure (figures 25–27).
One particularly good bone graft material that provides scaffolding space maintenance as well as stabilizes the blood clot is Geistlich Bio-Oss Collagen (Geistlich Pharmaceuticals).12 Geistlich Bio-Oss
Collagen is 90% Bio-Oss granules (size range 0.25–1.0 mm) and 10% collagen. The proprietary formulation of the collagen component gives the material its scaffolding and moldability qualities, which makes it an excellent product for site preservation after tooth extraction, especially during flapless site preservation.13 Finally, this graft material has been shown to outperform other graft materials in comparative studies looking at site preservation after tooth extraction.14
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Dental Economics’ partner publication Perio-Implant Advisory, a chairside resource for dentists and dental hygienists for issues relating to periodontal and implant medicine. Visitto sign up for a newsletter subscription.
1. Dye BA, Thornton-Evans G, Li X, Iafolla TJ. Dental caries and tooth loss in adults in the United States, 2011–2012. NCHS data brief, No. 197. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2015. .
2. Agarwal G, Thomas R, Mehta D. Postextraction maintenance of the alveolar ridge: rationale and review. Compend Cont Educ Dent. 2012;33(5):320-324; quiz 327, 336.
4. Schropp L, Wenzel A, Kostopoulos L, Karring T. Bone healing and soft tissue contour changes following single-tooth extraction: a clinical and radiographic 12-month prospective study. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent. 2003;23(4):313-323.
6. Lam RV. Contour changes of the alveolar processes following extraction. J Prosthet Dent. 1960;10:25-32.
7. Avila-Ortiz G, Elangovan S, Kramer KW, Blanchette D, Dawson DV. Effect of alveolar ridge preservation after tooth extraction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Dent Res. 2014;93(10):950-958. doi:.
8. Aimetti M, Manavella V, Corano L, Ercoli E, Bignardi C, Romano F. Three‐dimensional analysis of bone remodeling following ridge augmentation of compromised extraction sockets in periodontitis patients: a randomized controlled study. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2018;29(2):202-214. doi:. Epub November 17, 2017.
9. Elian N, Cho SC, Froum S, Smith RB, Tarnow DP. A simplified socket classification and repair technique. Pract Proced Aesthet Dent. 2007;(19)2:99-104; quiz 106.
10. Janicki P, Schmidmaier G. What should be the characteristics of the ideal bone graft substitute? Combining scaffolds with growth factors and/or stem cells. Injury. 2011;42(suppl 2):S77-S81.
11. Mellonig JT, Triplett RG. Guided tissue regeneration and endosseous dental implants. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent. 1993;13(2):108-119.
12. Araújo Mauricio, Linder E, Wennström J, Lindhe J. The influence of Bio-Oss Collagen on healing of an extraction socket: an experimental study in the dog. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent. 2008;28(2):123-135.
13. Cardaropoli D, Tamagnone L, Roffredo A, De Maria A, Gaveglio L. Alveolar ridge preservation using tridimensional collagen matrix and deproteinized bovine bone mineral in the esthetic area: a CBCT and histologic human pilot study. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent. 2018;38(suppl):S29-S35. doi:.
SCOTT FROUM, DDS, a graduate of the State University of New York, Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, is a periodontist in private practice at 1110 2nd Avenue, Suite 305, New York City, New York. He is the editorial director of Perio-Implant Advisory and serves on the editorial advisory board of Dental Economics. Contact him through his website at or (212) 751-8530.