What is Dental Bone Loss?

Bone loss can occur in the mouth around the teeth and in the jaws after losing teeth or resulting from periodontal or gum disease. This happens when the bacteria in dental plaque erodes the bone surrounding the teeth gradually. While bone loss can happen to all people regardless of age or overall dental health, the older the patient the more common bone loss is.

When the bone around the teeth is affected by infection, disease, or tooth loss, shrinkage can occur. This can result in the remaining teeth spreading out, moving, or becoming loose in the jaw.

Symptoms of Bone Loss

Your dentist will likely be able to see the signs of dental bone loss over the course of regular visits, but it is important for everyone to be able to notice these symptoms in their own mouths. Commonly reported symptoms include bad breath, swelling in the gums, bleeding gums, gum recession, and gaps appearing between teeth. If you notice any of these symptoms, or your gums have shrunk or swollen and bleed when you brush, you should contact your dental professional immediately. Failure to seek prompt treatment for dental bone loss can lead to further infection or disease and, ultimately, the loss of your teeth.

Causes of Dental Bone Loss

The most common problems that result in bone loss are gum disease and tooth loss. Traumatic injury due to contact sports or accidental impacts to the mouth or face may also add to bone loss. Various serious medical conditions or poor nutritional health may also increase the risk of bone loss, but the most significant contributor to dental bone loss is smoking.

It is well known in the dental field that smokers have the worst susceptibility to gum disease related bone loss. Smoking not only increases the risks of contracting periodontal disease but also increases the damage done. Smoking will also inhibit the ability of treatment to repair the damage.

Prevention of Bone Loss

As in most aspects of life, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure. Making the effort to maintain good habits will go a long way to preventing gum disease and the bone loss associated with it. Practicing good oral hygiene habits, brushing and flossing regularly, is the best way to keep your gums healthy. Eating a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol use are all good for overall health, but are essential to keeping a healthy mouth.

Saving Teeth with Bone Loss

If normal preventative measures are not enough to keep gum disease from causing bone loss, there are ways that dental professionals can help to save affected teeth. If the disease is still in its beginning stages, periodontal therapy and good home dental hygiene are often enough to reverse or even eradicate gum disease or bone loss.

When bone loss has occurred, regenerative grafting may help to repair some of the damage and keep teeth in place. If the problem is severe enough, dental implants may be necessary to replace missing bone or teeth.

Dental Implants Can Stop Bone Loss