Reasons for Jaw Bone Loss and Deterioration

The following are the most common causes for jaw bone deterioration that may require a bone grafting procedure before the placement of dental implants:

Tooth Extractions

When an adult tooth is removed and not replaced, jaw bone deterioration may occur. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone and stimulate the jaw bone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jaw bone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives stimulation. It begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates and melts away.

The rate the bone deteriorates, as well as the amount of bone loss that occurs, varies greatly among individuals. Most bone loss occurs within the first six months following the loss of a tooth.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal diseases are ongoing infections of the gums that gradually destroy the bone support of your natural teeth.

Dentures/Bridgework

Dentures can cause bone loss. When unanchored dentures are placed on top of the gum tissue, they do not provide any direct stimulation to the underlying bone. Over time the lack of stimulation causes the bone to resorb and deteriorate. When this happens, people often experience loosening of their dentures and problems eating and speaking. Eventually, bone loss may become so severe that dentures cannot be held in place without the placement of dental implants.

Some dentures are supported by anchors, which do help stimulate and preserve bone.

With bridgework, the teeth on either side of the appliance provide sufficient stimulation to the bone, but the portion of the bridge that spans the gap where the teeth are missing receives no direct stimulation. Bone loss can occur in this area.

By performing a bone graft procedure, Dr. Lee is now able to restore lost bone in preparation for the placement of dental implants to support dentures or a lost tooth. 

Facial Trauma

When a tooth is knocked out or broken, bone stimulation stops, which results in jaw bone loss. Some common forms of tooth and jaw trauma include teeth knocked out from injury or accident, jaw fractures, or teeth with a history of trauma that may die and lead to bone loss years after the initial trauma.

A bone grafting procedure can be performed to reverse the effects of bone deterioration. A bone graft can restore function and promote new bone growth in traumatized areas.

Misalignment

Misalignment issues can create a situation in the mouth where some teeth no longer have an opposing tooth. If the misalignment is significant, or orthognathic surgery may be needed to align the jaw, so implants can be placed.

Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection in the bone and bone marrow of the jaw. This infection leads to inflammation, which can cause a reduction of blood supply to the bone. Treatment for osteomyelitis generally requires antibiotics and the removal of the affected bone. A bone graft procedure may be required to restore bone function in severe cases.

Tumors

Benign jaw tumors, though not generally life-threatening, may grow large and require the removal of a portion of the jaw. Reconstructive bone grafting is usually required to help restore normal function to the jaw and any nerve reconstruction necessary can be done at the same time.

Developmental Deformities

Some conditions or syndromes are characterized by missing teeth and jaw bone. Dr. Lee may be able to perform a bone graft procedure to restore lost bone at the same time orthognathic surgery is performed to correct the developmental condition. 

Sinus Deficiencies

When molars are removed from the upper jaw, air pressure in the air cavity of the maxilla (maxillary sinus) can cause resorption of the bone that formerly helped keep the teeth in place. As a result, the sinuses can become enlarged, a condition called hyperpneumatized sinus. Hyperhyperpneumaation of the sinus can be problematic. 

This condition usually develops over several years and may result in insufficient bone for the placement of dental implants. Dr. Lee can perform a procedure called a “sinus lift” that can treat enlarged sinuses.