What Causes Bone Loss in the Jaw?

Bone loss in the jaw is generally caused by periodontitis and/or the loss of one or more teeth. 

Periodontitis

When bacteria builds up in the mouth, inflammation occurs within the gums. This causes the gums to turn red and swell with irritation and to bleed when brushed. If periodontitis is left untreated for too long, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, causing pockets and bone loss. This disease is the leading cause of tooth loss; it can also lead to serious health complications like cancer, asthma and Alzheimer’s. 

Periodontitis gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth, including the soft tissue. This disease eventually deteriorates areas of the bone as the infection moves from the periodontal ligament to the fundamental jawbone.

To treat periodontitis, the pockets that have formed near the gums must be cleaned out by a dental professional. This cleaning process is called scaling and root planing, which removes the plaque and calculus that has developed under the gums. This process paired with consistent maintenance care will help treat periodontitis.

Tooth Loss

When an adult tooth is removed, the jawbone will start to deteriorate unless the tooth is replaced with an implant or bone graft. Even bridgework can cause jawbone deterioration between the anchoring teeth. The lack of bone stimulation in the area of tooth loss is the cause of bone decay.

When a tooth is removed, it leaves behind a hole or socket. There are times when an implant can be placed directly into this socket, however, when too much bone is lost, the socket needs to be filled in, or rebuilt. This includes using bone grafts and membrane in combination with biologic modifiers to prepare the site for a stable implant. 

When a tooth or multiple teeth have been missing for a long time, the bone goes through changes that cause it to shrink. Guided bone regeneration (GBR) is a technique that uses bone grafting, membranes, and biologic modifiers to help bulk the bony ridge in order to support an implant. 

To learn more, visit pre-implant surgery and dental implants

Request an appointment to review concerns about bone loss or missing teeth with Dr. Lieber, Dr. Stilley, and Dr. Medina. Remember that a prompt response to a missing tooth will be less damaging than prolonging any periodontal procedure.