Socket preservation is a procedure used to reduce the amount of bone loss after tooth is extracted. After tooth extraction, the jaw bone has a natural tendency to become narrow, and lose its original shape because the bone quickly resorbs, resulting in 30–60% loss in the bone volume in the first six months. Bone loss can compromise the ability to place a dental implant (to replace the extracted tooth), or it's aesthetics and function.
Socket preservation attempts to prevent bone loss by bone grafting the socket with bone immediately after the tooth extraction. With this procedure, the gum is retracted, the tooth is extracted, graft material (usually a bone substitute) is placed in the tooth socket. The socket is then covered with a barrier membrane, and sutured closed for healing. Roughly 30 days after the socket preservation procedure, the barrier membrane is either removed, or it will have resorbed and the new bone is covered with gum tissue.
While there is good evidence that socket preservation prevents bone loss, there is no definitive proof that this leads to higher implants success or long-term health.