Potential Causes of Jawbone Loss and Deterioration
Natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone, and stimulate the jawbone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the portion of the jawbone that anchors the teeth in the mouth no longer receives essential stimulation and thus begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jawbone, so it deteriorates and goes away. Some common causes can be:
- Tooth Extractions—when an adult tooth is removed and not replaced, jawbone deterioration may occur. The rate at which the bone deteriorates, as well as the amount of bone loss that occurs, varies greatly among individuals. However, most loss occurs within the first eighteen months following the extraction, and continues throughout life.
- Periodontal Disease—is ongoing infection of the gums that gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth, resulting in deteriorating bone. The progressive loss of this bone can lead to loosening or subsequent loss of teeth.
- Dentures—unanchored dentures are placed on top of the gum line, and therefore do not provide any direct stimulation to the underlying alveolar bone. Over time, the lack of stimulation can cause the bone to resorb and deteriorate. Alternatively, some dentures are supported by implants, which provide adequate stimulation, and therefore preserve bone.
- Bridgework—the teeth on either side of the bridge do provide sufficient stimulation to the bone, however, the portion of the bridge that spans the gap where the teeth are missing, does not. Bone loss can occur in this area.
- Trauma—teeth lost from an injury, accident, or jaw fracture, or teeth with a history of trauma, may lead to bone loss years after the initial trauma, causing bone loss and deterioration.
- Misalignment—occurs in situations where some teeth no longer have an opposing tooth to bite against. The unopposed tooth can over-erupt, due to deterioration of the underlying bone.
- Osteomyelitis—a type of bacterial infection in the bone and bone marrow of the jaw. The infection leads to inflammation, which can cause a reduction of blood supply to the bone. Treatment for osteomyelitis generally requires antibiotics and removal of the affected bone. A bone graft procedure may then be required to restore bone function and growth.
- Developmental Deformities—some conditions or syndromes are characterized by missing portions of the teeth, facial bones, jaw or skull. Drs. Steven Hribernik or William Gray may be able to perform a bone graft procedure to restore bone function and growth where it may be absent.
- Tumors—Benign facial tumors, though generally non-threatening, may grow large and require removal of a portion of the jaw. Malignant mouth tumors almost always spread into the jaw, requiring removal of a section of the jaw. In both cases, reconstructive bone grafting is usually required to help restore the functionality of the jaw.
- Sinus Deficiencies—when teeth are removed from the upper jaw, air pressure from the air cavity in the maxilla (maxillary sinus), can cause resorption of the bone that formerly helped retain the teeth in place. As a result, the sinuses become enlarged and may result in insufficient bone platform for the placement of dental implants. Drs. Hribernik or Gray can perform a “sinus lift” procedure to treat enlarged sinuses.