, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 341-363

Alveolar ridge preservation. A systematic review

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The objective of this paper is to examine the effect of alveolar ridge preservation (ARP) compared to unassisted socket healing.


Systematic review with electronic and hand search was performed. Randomised controlled trials (RCT), controlled clinical trials (CCT) and prospective cohort studies were eligible.


Eight RCTs and six CCTs were identified. Clinical heterogeneity did not allow for meta-analysis. Average change in clinical alveolar ridge (AR) width varied between −1.0 and −3.5 ± 2.7 mm in ARP groups and between −2.5 and −4.6 ± 0.3 mm in the controls, resulting in statistically significantly smaller reduction in the ARP groups in five out of seven studies. Mean change in clinical AR height varied between +1.3 ± 2.0 and −0.7 ± 1.4 mm in the ARP groups and between −0.8 ± 1.6 and −3.6 ± 1.5 mm in the controls. Height reduction in the ARP groups was statistically significantly less in six out of eight studies. Histological analysis indicated various degrees of new bone formation in both groups. Some graft interfered with the healing. Two out of eight studies reported statistically significantly more trabecular bone formation in the ARP group. No superiority of one technique for ARP could be identified; however, in certain cases guided bone regeneration was most effective. Statistically, significantly less augmentation at implant placement was needed in the ARP group in three out of four studies. The strength of evidence was moderate to low.


Post-extraction resorption of the AR might be limited, but cannot be eliminated by ARP, which at histological level does not always promote new bone formation. RCTs with unassisted socket healing and implant placement in the ARP studies are needed to support clinical decision making.

Clinical relevance

This systematic review reports not only on the clinical and radiographic outcomes, but also evaluates the histological appearance of the socket, along with site specific factors, patient-reported outcomes, feasibility of implant placement and strength of evidence, which will facilitate the decision making process in the clinical practice.