Within the dental alveolar socket, the sequence of events following tooth extraction involves deposition of a provisional connective tissue matrix that is later replaced by woven bone and eventually by lamellar bone. Bone regeneration within the dental alveolar socket is unique since the space occupied by the root(s) of a tooth does not originally contain any bone. However, extracellular matrix composition of the healing alveolar socket has not previously been investigated. Here, alveolar bone biopsies representing early (7-46 months, < 4y) and late (48-60 months; 4-5y) healing periods were investigated using Raman spectroscopy, X-ray micro-computed tomography and backscattered electron scanning electron microscopy. Partially or completely edentulous individuals and those with a smoking habit were not excluded. Between < 4y and 4-5y, mineral crystallinity and bone mineral density increase, phenylalanine, proline/hydroxyproline, and bone surface-to-volume ratio decrease, while the carbonate-to-phosphate ratio, the mineral-to-matrix ratio, and the collagen crosslink ratio remain relatively unchanged. Observed exclusively at 4-5y, hypermineralised osteocyte lacunae contain spherical and rhomboidal mineral nodules. Spearman correlation analysis reveals several significant, high (ρ = 0.7-0.9; p ≤ 0.01) and moderate (ρ = 0.5-0.7; p ≤ 0.01) correlations. Mineral crystallinity and proline/hydroxyproline, the carbonate-to-phosphate ratio and phenylalanine, mineral crystallinity and bone surface-to-volume ratio, the carbonate-to-phosphate ratio and bone surface-to-volume ratio, proline/hydroxyproline and bone mineral density, and bone mineral density and bone surface-to-volume ratio are negatively correlated. Mineral crystallinity and bone mineral density, and proline/hydroxyproline and bone surface-to-volume ratio are positively correlated. Although bone regeneration in the dental alveolar socket follows typical bone healing patterns, the compositional and microstructural patterns reveal mature bone at <4y with indications of better mechanical competence at 4-5y.
Keywords: Bone; Bone regeneration; Dental alveolar socket; Extracellular matrix; Osteocyte; Raman spectroscopy.
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