Jaw bone loss can occur for a variety of reasons. When you lose teeth or have teeth removed, the jaw bone will begin to deteriorate due to lack of stimulation. You can also lose bone in your jaw if you suffer from chronic periodontitis, where the bacteria affecting your gums will begin to wear away at the bone, and even the ligaments that connect the gums to your bone tissue.
We sat down with Dr. Brusky who explained to us the three major consequences of jaw bone loss.
Alters Your Appearance
When teeth are lost or removed from the mouth and not replaced, it can cause significant changes to the surrounding bone structure. The problem gets worse the more teeth you have missing.
When there is no stimulation for the bone due to missing teeth, the bone will resorb back into the body. After the first year, you can lose up to 25% of your jaw bone tissue, and the problem will only exacerbate from there.
This loss of bone can alter the appearance of your face in several ways.
- A decrease in the section of the face known as the vertical dimension, which is the length between the tip of the nose and chin
- Premature wrinkling around the mouth
- The weakening of the facial muscles
- Thinning of the lips
“These effects can have you looking much older than your chronological years,” explained Dr. Brusky.
Limits Dental Options
Dental implants can be used to stop bone loss caused by missing teeth. Implants are surgically implanted into the bone and can provide stimulation like natural teeth when fitted with restorations such as a porcelain crown, bridge, and even partial and full dentures.
However, Dr. Brusky warned that dental implants might not be an option if you have suffered from severe bone loss.
“A dental implant is a cylindrical titanium fixture that is implanted into the gum and bone tissue. If there is not enough bone or gum tissue to encircle the implant, the implant won’t lock in place,” said Dr. Brusky.
Wisconsin’s own Gentle Dental professional said that patients often ask if dentures will halt bone loss like dental implants.
“Dentures can dramatically accelerate bone loss because they only provide about 10% of the pressure and stimulation that natural teeth provide,” Dr. Brusky said.
More Expensive Treatments
If bone loss is significant, treatment is possible. Bone grafts can be performed to build up jawbone tissue using special materials. Grafts can be used to fortify existing teeth or provide stability for dental implants.
Given enough time, the bone graft can cause your existing jaw bone to regrow and become stronger. This means that you could completely recover from bone loss, with your natural teeth or dental implants providing the stimulation your jaw bone needs to remain in place.
The thing is, bone grafts can be expensive, and gum disease treatment and dental implants can also raise dental costs. It is also not always possible to grow bone in areas that are too deficient and it is very hard to build bone vertically. The best option is to prevent bone loss rather than treat it after it has become a problem.
Dr. Brusky recommended that you see your dentist at least every six months. If bone loss is detected, work with your dentist to devise a teeth replacement or periodontal therapy treatment plan to address the problem so that your appearance or pocketbook remains unaffected.
To learn more about jaw bone loss and the various dental treatments available, contact our office today.