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Bone loss in teeth: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Jul 24, 2023Dental implants, Oral health

Bone loss in teeth

Bone loss is a common result of tooth loss and chronic periodontitis. It affects the bone that surrounds and provides support to the teeth. Age has no impact on the likelihood of experiencing bone loss, as it can occur in individuals of any age and results in the deterioration of the ridges wherein the teeth are located.

Bacterial degradation of the jawbone and periodontal ligaments (which is responsible for connecting the tooth to the bone) may lead to a significant decline in the amount of bone present in the mouth. It is essential to maintain sufficient bone in the mouth in order to support both aesthetic and functional requirements. If you are suffering from gum disease or have experienced dental trauma resulting in the loss of a tooth, it is critical to seek professional assistance promptly.


Rebuilding Bone Loss in Gums

Bone loss around the teeth and in the jaws is a prevalent condition that may be caused by tooth loss or most commonly, periodontal disease (also referred to as gum disease). Without proper care and maintenance, these conditions can have a severe impact on one’s oral health. This disease occurs when the bacteria present in dental plaque begin to break down the bone structure that supports the teeth, resulting in a gradual erosion of the bones.


Causes of Bone loss in teeth

Tooth loss is a common factor that can lead to bone resorption. Other conditions that may increase the risk of bone resorption include:

Periodontal disease: Patients with advanced periodontal disease experience resorption of the jawbone and periodontal ligaments that support the teeth, due to the activity of bacteria. This damage can cause the teeth to become loose or even lead to tooth loss if the bacteria continues to spread in the periodontal pockets. In addition to any potential damage to the jawbones, tooth loss could also result in bone resorption within the affected area.

Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is another major contributing factor to rapid bone loss in the jaws. This disease is characterized by brittle bones, often a consequence of aging and inadequate calcium intake. Osteoporosis has systemic effects and can significantly impact the jawbones.

Facial injury: Trauma to or irritation of facial bones can lead to alterations in the activity of bone cells, which are responsible for the breakdown and rebuilding of bone tissue.

Missing Teeth: After a tooth is lost, approximately 25% of the surrounding jawbone will be lost in the first year post-extraction. This is due to the absence of pressure and stimulus that is normally generated by chewing, which would typically keep the bone strong and intact. Over time, further resorption into the body can be expected.

Misalignment: Untreated misalignment of the teeth can lead to bone loss because the teeth are no longer receiving direct stimulation from an opposing tooth structure. Other misalignments, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, the eruption of wisdom teeth, inadequate treatment, and general wear-and-tear, can cause difficulty with everyday activities such as biting and chewing.

Over time, bone loss can occur due to a lack of stimulus applied to the bones.


Symptoms of bone loss in teeth

Tooth bone loss is a gradual process, and may present itself with the following symptoms:

  • Ill-fitted dentures
  • Shifting teeth
  • Facial structure collapse
  • Wrinkles in the mouth area
  • Loose teeth
  • Lips sinking inward
  • Discomfort when chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Sharp pain
  • An increase in sensitivity
  • Bad breath

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is imperative that you seek counsel from your dentist as soon as possible.


Treatments for bone loss in teeth

The good news is, individuals who experience bone loss in their teeth may take comfort in the fact that there are a variety of treatments available to help address this issue.

Bone Grafting

In cases where there has been a significant loss of bone, bone grafting may be necessary to provide sufficient bone surface for dental implant replacement. This treatment offers the benefit of replacing bone as well as stimulating regrowth of the jawbone. Your dentist will select the appropriate type of bone grafting material in accordance with your specific needs.

Composite Bonding

Composite bonding is an effective way to improve the appearance of teeth affected by bone loss, particularly visible gaps or “black triangles” between teeth. Through reshaping and hiding these deficiencies, composite bonding can dramatically improve the aesthetics of your smile, which can lead to an enhanced sense of confidence.

Ridge Augmentation

Ridge augmentation is a surgical procedure intended to restore the ridge of bone to its appropriate height and form. This is achieved through the addition of grafted or synthetic bone tissue.

It is imperative to consult with your dentist to determine the best course of action before proceeding with a treatment plan.


How to Recognize Bone Loss Before it Becomes a Problem

If you have noticed changes to your teeth such as loosening or shifting, or if your gums are swollen, shrunken, or bleed when brushing, it is likely that you are experiencing gum disease and bone loss. It is essential that you seek guidance and treatment from a medical professional promptly, as failure to do so could result in tooth loss.

Common signs of a dental issue can include a gap or gaps between the teeth, bad breath, loose teeth, swollen and/or bleeding gums, and gum recession.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is recommended that you contact your dentist immediately.


How to prevent dental bone loss in teeth

Maintaining healthy teeth and good oral hygiene is essential to prevent bone loss in teeth. Ways to achieve this include:

  • Increasing your Calcium intake
  • Increasing your Vitamin D intake
  • Avoid smoking
  • Control your sugar intake
  • Take good care of your dental health
  • Visit your dentist on a regular basis


What Happens if You Don’t Treat Bone Loss?

Failing to manage bone loss can have a detrimental effect on oral health, including potential tooth loss. Furthermore, it can cause pain and necessitate corrective surgery. If left untreated, bone loss can worsen and result in more serious medical issues.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are critical for preserving teeth and avoiding further damage.

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