The socket left by an extracted tooth is more than just a place where food can get caught and the tongue can ‘worry’ the gap. It is also a place where disease can weaken bone.
Surgeons typically fill this socket with grafting material, but a barrier placed over the graft may help the bone regrow even faster.
A study in the current issue of the Journal of Oral Implantology (Wallace, 2015) looks at a new type of barrier membrane, known as porcine collagen.
Socket grafting is one of the most frequently performed procedures in oral surgery.
After a tooth is extracted, the socket in the jawbone can rapidly shrink and make it impossible to place an implant.
To prevent this, the surgeon fills the socket with a bone grafting material to rebuild or preserve the bone’s strength.
The current study involved 14 patients who needed to have one or more teeth replaced.
Once the teeth were removed, the sockets were filled with particulate allograft bone and covered with a layer of porcine collagen.
After 16 weeks, the sites were examined and dental implants were placed.
The results showed a wide range of new bone growth in the treated sockets, from 1.8% to 43%.
The new bone formation averaged 11.2% among the study group.
At the same time, the barrier of porcine collagen helped to prevent soft tissue from growing into the space.
It also helped to cut down the loss of bone volume, making it easier to place large dental implants.
Computerised tomographic scans showed that bone density quickly developed with the combination of socket grafting material and the barrier membrane.
This meant that the grafting material was well integrated into the jawbone.
Even though bone regeneration varied, the author concluded that porcine collagen showed potential for promoting new bone growth.