Shortly after a tooth is lost, the jaw bone that held it in place begins to resorb or shrink. After an extraction, the normal healing process of the extraction site brings about as much as 40% loss in the height and width of the remaining bone. Steps can be taken to prevent this bone loss, because if nothing is done, there may not be adequate volume of bone left to place an implant to replace the missing tooth.
In the ideal situation, bone grafting is done into the extraction site immediately after the extraction. The bone grafting material can be natural bone or synthetic material. Usually, about four months after the bone grafting, an implant can be placed to replace the missing tooth.
Even if the patient is not going to get an implant to replace a tooth planned for extraction anytime soon, it is advisable to do bone grafting immediately after the extraction to preserve the bone in case they decide to get an implant someday in the future.
If the bone loss is allowed to progress, bone augmentation may be required at the implant site. By placing a natural or synthetic bone graft, the jaw bone can be reshaped to create space to place an implant where the space was otherwise lost.