The reason for undergoing a bone grafting procedure is the loss of density in the jawbone. Because of the importance of this bone in your daily life, allowing it to deteriorate will affect not only the function of your mouth, but your overall health as well. If you have lost a tooth and are experiencing weakness or deterioration of your jawbone, contact us today to schedule a diagnostic consultation and learn what we can do for you.
The Importance of Teeth for Jaw Bone Health
Losing permanent teeth is much more serious a matter than the loss of our baby teeth, especially because the tooth fairy rarely makes visits to adult pillows. When one or more teeth remain missing for a period of time, your jawbone no longer has any roots stimulating it to remain strong and continue bonding; therefore, these sites of missing teeth lead to deterioration of the jawbone. This loss of bone can spread, affecting the way your jawline appears, the health of your teeth and eventually your overall health can be affected as your eating habits and lifestyle begin to suffer. Losing only one tooth can eventually lead to the loss of ability to speak and eat normally.
Bone tissue works very similarly to muscle: muscles are maintained through regular use and exercise and so is bone tissue. Although we do not exercise our bone tissue in the same way we do our muscles, stimulation such as chewing and biting as well as the continuous bond with embedded natural teeth is what allows bone tissue to remain strong. When a tooth is missing, the portion of the jawbone that holds the teeth in the mouth loses its regular stimulation and resorbs or breaks down gradually. When the body is no longer in need of this bone tissue, it has no need to work to sustain it.
Consequences of Tooth and Jawbone Loss
Losing teeth and thereby suffering from the deterioration of your jawbone may present potential risks for your immediate and long-term oral and general health. The possible consequences of your jawbone loss may include any of the following:
- Distorted facial profile and features
- Wrinkling around the mouth and lack of lip support
- Tooth misalignment, loosening, shifting and loss
- Jaw pain (including TMJ disorders), headaches, facial pain
- Trouble eating, chewing, speaking, yawning
- Sinus expansion
- Poor nutrition due to problems with chewing food
What Can Cause Jawbone Loss & Deterioration
While tooth loss is the most common cause of jawbone deterioration, there are other conditions that may cause your jawbone to become weak and brittle. The following are the most common causes, which may require bone grafting:
Many patients who require tooth extractions suffer from jawbone deterioration due to lack of follow-through in having the missing tooth replaced. The alveolar bone (the part of the jaw that acts as an anchor for your teeth) needs stimulation in order to stay strong, and without a replacement tooth in the missing spot, the bone will begin to lose its form.Most bone loss occurs within 18 months of the tooth extraction. It is important to have a lost tooth replaced immediately.
Periodontal diseases are chronic gum infections that affect your natural teeth by destroying the supportive tissue that keeps them in place. This type of disease may occur in a range of locations within the oral system, but has lasting affects no matter where it hits.
What is the leading cause of periodontal disease? Plaque. Simple dental plaque that your dentist removes during your routine cleaning is the primary cause of gingivitis, which is the primary cause of periodontitis. Caring for your oral health is supremely important in maintaining your teeth and jawbone.
Because dentures are simply adhered to the gum line and not attached to the alveolar bone, they do not provide any stimulation for your jawbone tissue to maintain its form and strength. You may have a functioning set of teeth, but as the bone deteriorates over time, there will be less support for your gums and dentures as your facial structure may be compromised.
Dentures that are supported by anchors do help to stimulate the jawbone tissue and are very beneficial in maintaining your oral health and preserving bone.
Bridges are anchored into the jaw, but only in select places. The gaps between these anchors are susceptible to bone deterioration and a bone grafting procedure may be required.
Trauma, such as an athletic injury, violent incident or accident, can cause a tooth to be loosened or lost and therefore a gap in the mouth susceptible to jawbone loss. A broken jaw is especially at risk and must be tended to immediately.
TMJ problems, natural jaw misalignment and an elongated lack of treatment may affect your jaw’s ability to support teeth. Wear and tear due to misalignment can create a condition in which some teeth do not have a structure holding them in place, causing over-eruption and deterioration of the bone beneath.
This bacterial infection attacks the jawbone and marrow, leading to inflammation and causing the bone’s blood supply to be compromised. In this case, the bone deteriorates whether there is a tooth in place or not, and the section of bone that is infected often needs to be removed. Bone grafting is the best solution for maintaining a healthy jaw in this case.
Facial tumors, even when benign, are susceptible to growth and may subject the jaw to trauma. In many cases, these tumors cannot be removed without a part of the jaw as well. Reconstructive bone grafting in these cases helps patients to maintain the part of their mouth that was affected by the tumor and move on with a normal mouth and jawline.
Birth defects that affect the jawline may appear in the form of missing teeth or missing parts of facial bones, jawbone or the skull. Bone grafting is the most effective means of restoring these patients to a normal facial structure and function.
Molar removal in the upper jaw may cause sinus enlargement (called hyperpneumatized sinus). This is due to the reabsorption of the bone that once held the now-removed teeth in place. This condition takes several years to develop, but over time it may result in insufficient bone. In these cases, Dr. Elias recommends a sinus lift to treat and reduce enlargement.
If you are suffering from jawbone loss and are looking for a solution, bone grafting may be the right procedure for you. Contact the Southern California Center for Surgical Arts to receive the best treatment from Los Angeles’ favorite oral/maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Elias. We would love to answer any of your questions and schedule your introductory consultation.