What Causes Bone Loss

Bone loss is often caused by missing teeth and severe gum disease. Gum disease or periodontitis can cause bone loss due to the gradual buildup of bacteria. Bacteria destroys the jawbone and periodontal ligaments that are needed to hold the teeth in place.


It is quite common for patients to experience bone loss when their missing teeth are not replaced. The jawbone is reliant on constant stimulation received from chewing, speaking, and other routine activities. When the jawbone fails to be stimulated, there can be bone resorption and deterioration. The first year following the extraction of a tooth, 25% of the bone is lost. Failure to replace the missing tooth will result in bone loss.


This bone loss occurs in the alveolar bone which is the bone responsible for surrounding and supporting the tooth. The alveolar bone forms ridges where the teeth are embedded and these ridges atrophy horizontally and vertically. Patients who chose to use traditional dentures as a tooth-replacement solution, often still experience bone loss. This is due to the failure of stimulation to the jawbone.


When the upper jaw molars are no longer present, there can be more prominent bone resorption. Because of the location of the sinus cavity, the bone loss can be more severe in this area. Teeth which are specifically missing in this area can allow for additional air pressure on the sinus cavity. Additional causes for bone loss can include tumors of the face, infection, and misaligned teeth. Teeth which are not properly aligned can cause issues with the patient’s bite.


Dentures can make bone loss occur more quickly as they can wear away at the ridges of bone where they are placed. Each time the patient bites down or clenches their teeth, they place pressure on the ridge and results in resorption. This is why patients often struggle with achieving dentures which fit well, experience sore spots, and have pain when chewing.


Because of the loss of the ridge bone, it can bring the chin closer to the nose. This can cause the jaw to jut out, giving the nose the appearance of sticking due to the puckered in upper lip. Deep wrinkles can develop around the mouth and cheeks. This makes the skin sag and can create the appearance of jowls; making patients appear older than they really are.


In order to prevent the negative consequences of bone loss, patients should replace their missing teeth as soon as possible. The best modern tooth-replacement treatment option is dental implants. The dentist is able to begin the tooth implant procedure immediately following a tooth extraction.


Implant-supported bridges and dental implants both prevent bone loss through stimulation of the jawbone. Bridges and implants give patients the appearance and function which closely mimic the natural teeth. Implant-secured dentures is another tooth-replacement solution which can help prevent bone loss.


Patients who do not have adequate bone structure required for supporting a dental implant may need a bone graft. Bone grafts can also be used to repair damaged bone from severe cases of gum disease. In addition to replacing lost bone, grafts also stimulate the jawbone to regrow and replace the bone graft with the patient’s healthy bone. A variety of different products can be used for bone grafting such as a manufactured product, bone from an animal, and the patient’s own bone from another area.


Patients who have bone loss or missing teeth should contact their dentist immediately. The dentist can determine the cause of the issue and discuss treatment options. Patients who neglect replacing missing teeth may experience permanent bone loss and long-term problems.

Dental Implants Can Stop Bone Loss