Rebuilding Lost Bone Structure in Our Gums

Bone loss around teeth happens more often than you think. It looks and feels awful, which is why so many people read about teeth implants and potential bone loss treatments online. After all, nobody wants to see the bone around their teeth wither away. Once it does, it leaves the teeth vulnerable and brittle, and if you don’t treat it in time, you risk further harm.

But what is bone loss in gums? What causes it, and, more importantly, is there a way to rebuild bone? Are there any treatments that can be 100% helpful or effective? This article will help you figure out the answers.

What Is Dental Bone Loss?

As its name suggests, dental bone loss is the process where the bone around your teeth shrinks as a result of an infection or disease. Without the surrounding bone, the teeth become loose and unprotected, and they tend to spread out more. 

Anyone can suffer from dental bone loss. However, statistically speaking, it occurs more frequently with senior citizens than anyone else. Of course, that’s to be expected; as we age, bones deteriorate and even healthy teeth might start to fall out. But no matter what age you are, you should still try to prevent or treat dental bone loss.

What Causes Dental Bone Loss?

There are several different causes of this particular condition. Listed from most to least common reason, they include:

  • Periodontitis
  • Tooth removal
  • Apical periodontitis

Periodontitis is also known as gum disease. This particular condition occurs when you don’t take good care of your teeth. For example, if you fail to brush or floss properly, the risk of gum disease increases with each passing day. The same happens if you outright refuse to brush. Plaque, bacteria, and tartar will begin to form both around and under your gums, which can cause bone deterioration. 

Tooth removal is the next most common reason behind the dental bone loss. If you lose a tooth or have it removed, you typically will lose 25% of the surrounding bone within a year. That bone will continue to deteriorate over time, which will cause further pain and discomfort. Normally, the bone in our jaw is strengthened through the pressure that comes from the act of chewing. But since there is no longer a tooth there, there’s no pressure, so the bone simply continues to shrink and resorbs into your body.

The third, least common reason behind this dental issue is related to local root canal infections. Harmful bacteria leak out of the tip of the tooth’s root and start infecting the surrounding area. It doesn’t take long for it to reach the jaw bone underneath, causing it to shrink and deteriorate further. The biggest problem with this type of bone loss is that the affected area is surrounded by healthy bone. If the infection continues to spread, you stand to lose a lot more of your jawbone than you would with regular periodontitis. 

Other Potential Causes of Dental Bone Loss

Aside from gum disease, infections, and tooth loss, there are a few other potential reasons behind your jawbone shrinking and resorbing into your body. So, you’re likely to suffer from dental bone loss if you:

  • Smoke excessively (smoking reduces the production of enzymes that maintain our gums)
  • Grind your teeth (bruxism or teeth grinding speeds up the deterioration process, especially if you grind them unnaturally hard)
  • Benign or malignant jaw lesions (benign ones like cysts can erode the jaw over time, while malignant ones lead to tumors)

How to Treat Dental Bone Loss

If you leave your jawbone alone and expect it to heal itself, you’re at risk of making the condition worse. Untreated, the jawbone will simply continue to shrink and resorb, and the pain you experience will only get worse. And depending on the cause behind the bone loss, you might even risk damaging healthy bone in the process.

Luckily, there are plenty of techniques and treatments out there that can help with dental bone loss. It all depends on what caused the condition to begin with. For instance, if you suffered bone loss due to infection, all your dentist needs to do is clean up the infection with a root canal. That way, they can save the critical spot while keeping the surrounding bone safe and intact. 

Of course, with periodontitis, you will need a permanent solution for your jaw. As stated earlier, without a tooth, the empty spot in your bone doesn’t receive any pressure from chewing. Therefore, as soon as you lose a tooth, you need to find a way to replace it. Moreover, the replacement has to be perfect — it has to match the tooth you lost with a 99% accuracy so that it can apply the same amount of force as the old tooth did during chewing. 

We will, of course, cover the most common method of replacing an old tooth, but before we do, there is one more procedure you should consider. When you lose a lot of the jawbone, the dentist can help you rebuild it with guided bone regeneration or GBR. To put it as simply as possible, a dentist takes some replacement material and injects it into the empty space where parts of your jawbone used to be. In time, this material will harden, giving the bone some time to start regrowing. 

 Dental Implants and Bone Loss

Millions of Americans are looking into getting dental implants. In fact, the implant industry is expected to see significant growth in the following years. You can read all about it in the following article:

But why should you consider dental implants? How exactly do false teeth help us regenerate and rebuild the jawbone after a dental bone loss?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, in order to prevent further deterioration, all you need is a tooth replacement. And that replacement needs to be as close to the original as possible. Modern technology has advanced the field of dentistry, making today’s dental implants one of the safest, most beneficial options you can choose. Not only is an implant sturdy, but it will also stay where it is for years before you even think about replacing it. 

 Preventing Future Bone Loss

Rebuilding your jawbone is one thing, keeping it intact is another. If you fail to properly maintain your oral and dental hygiene, you risk further bone deterioration in the future. So, in order to prevent that from happening, try to implement a few crucial changes to your life:

  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly
  • Make sure to get frequent dental check-ups
  • If you smoke, try quitting, or at least reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke per day
  • Avoid food that’s extremely hot or cold
  • Try not to grind your teeth
  • See your dentist whenever you feel a tinge of pain where the bone loss occurred