Alveolar ridge resorption has long been considered an unavoidable consequence of tooth extraction. While the extent and pattern of resorption is variable among individuals, there is a progressive loss of ridge contour as a result of physiologic bone remodeling. Over the long term, prosthodontic complications, loss of function, and inadequate bone for the placement of dental implants may result. Guided bone regeneration techniques and the use of bone replacement materials have both been shown to enhance socket healing and modify the resorption process. This review describes the process of alveolar bone loss, materials for extraction site grafting, and proposed mechanisms for ridge preservation.