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Socket Shield Technique — Part 7

  October 02, 2017

By Alexander Germanis

Advances in technology are usually greeted with excitement. Such advances in the medical field are especially favored because of how they can positively affect our health and quality of life. After all, a new surgical instrument or an innovative technique can mean the difference between having either a lengthy or a rapid recovery period. That same advance can even affect our overall appearance.

Some techniques can do both. The advent of dental implants has certainly been one of those advances. Emil Verban, Jr. DDS, says there is a new trend within the already advanced realm of implant dentistry.

“It’s called the socket shield technique,” he begins. “After we remove the teeth, we leave part of the roots of those teeth and place implants around them. Part of the reason for leaving that root in is to prevent shrinkage and bone loss around the tooth.”

One of the problems that arises with tooth loss is the subsequent loss of bone mass in the jawbone. The jawbone’s purpose is to act as a base and support for teeth, therefore, once one or multiple teeth are extracted, the body begins to reabsorb the cellular mass of the jawbone, thus reducing the overall size of the bone itself. This is why denture-wearers will notice a change to the shape and size of their jawbone over time; this is due to bone resorption.

As Dr. Verban explained in a previous article in this series, timing is a critical issue when it comes to preventing resorption. However, gum tissue type also plays a factor. “When you lose a tooth, the bone ridge wants to collapse, even when you put the implant in,” he says. “The ridge will resorb, depending on the type of tissue around it. Thick tissue is more forgiving as far as bone loss, while people who have thin tissue are more prone to losing bone.”

For those patients with thin tissue, where exactly to place the implant is as vital as the timing of the placement. “You have to position the implant taking into consideration they’re going to be losing some bone,” Dr. Verban explains. Bone loss means the threads of the implant will become exposed, which of course means a loss of stability of the implant, which in turn can lead to implant failure. “Sometimes, in those patients with thin-type tissue, we leave the roots of their original teeth in.”

The root left in the socket acts as a shield, preventing the socket from resorption, hence the name. Leaving the roots of the original teeth in trick the body into thinking the teeth are still there, so when the implants are placed, there is no bone resorption.

Bacterial infection can also be a potential problem with empty socket implant placement. The socket shield technique can do away with that risk. As the socket is still sealed because the root is left in, there are no problems with additional infection in or around the socket.

Furthermore, as Dr. Verban says, the technique also contributes to the overall aesthetic of the patient’s mouth. “When it all heals up,” he says, “it looks exactly the same as when the tooth was in, because the root stalk is still in there.”

Anyone who has lost a tooth or teeth or has had severe dental issues knows aesthetics can be just as important as the actual health issues. A good smile goes a long way in making one feel better about oneself. So, if you are thinking you might need dental implants soon, the socket shield technique might be right for you.

If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can read them online at or call Cheryl at 309-664-2524.

For more information, you may contact Emil Verban, Jr., DDS at 309-662-8448 or visit McLean County Dental is located at 2103 E. Washington Street in Bloomington. Dr. Verban provides his patients both general dentistry expertise and the ability to provide specialized services such as sedation dentistry, cosmetic procedures, and dental implants.
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October 02, 2017
Categories:  Oral Health


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