Tag Archives: jawbone

What Causes Bone Loss In Teeth?

For people missing one tooth or several teeth, dental implants are the most effective tooth-replacement option available. Not only do they look and feel more natural than dentures and bridgework, but they’re also sturdier, stronger, and longer-lasting. Dental implants are the only tooth-replacement solution that mimics the entire tooth structure, from root to crown, which gives them the added advantage of strengthening the jawbone. Because dental implants involve a titanium post surgically inserted into the jaw, candidates must have sufficient jawbone to support the implant. Unfortunately, jawbone loss is common in people whose teeth have been missing for a long time, even if they’ve used other tooth replacement solutions. So what causes bone loss in teeth, and can it be fixed?

What causes bone loss in teeth?

The four main causes of jawbone loss include:

1. Missing teeth

Missing teeth are one of the main causes of jawbone loss. The teeth and the jawbone have a mutually beneficial relationship. The jawbone anchors the teeth in place and provides them with the stability to bite and chew. The pressure from the biting and chewing in turn stimulates the jawbone, reinforcing it and keeping it healthy and strong. 

When a tooth falls out or is extracted, the jawbone no longer receives the stimulation of the biting and chewing in that area.  Before too long, the body begins to reabsorb the minerals that make up the bone cells, distributing them to other areas where they’re more needed. This causes the jawbone to atrophy (shrink), and it happens fairly quickly. Within the first year after extraction, approximately 25% of the bone is lost from the area. Although the rate of atrophy slows down after 18 months or so, it does continue after that time. 

2. Periodontal disease

Gum disease is another major cause of jawbone loss. During the early stage, gingivitis, the gums become inflamed and tender, and may bleed when brushing, but it’s reversible with proper dental care. If left untreated, however, gingivitis advances to periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, which involves infection below the gum line. With proper care, periodontitis can be stopped but not reversed. Damage from periodontitis can include receding gums, bad breath, damaged ligaments, and bone loss.  Qualified candidates for dental implants cannot have active periodontal disease.  

3. Tooth infection

Tooth infections often result in a great deal of pain causing the individual to seek treatment right away. But some tooth infections are asymptomatic and can go completely unnoticed. Despite the lack of pain, the infection will still do damage, as bacteria inside the root of the tooth creates inflammatory toxins that spread to the jawbone, reducing blood flow to the area, and causing it to shrink.

4. Tumors and cysts

Tumors, cysts, and other abnormalities can also affect jawbone health. There are different types of growths that can be responsible for jawbone loss, including cysts filled with fluid, and benign or cancerous tumors formed from cells dividing at an abnormal rate.  

Jawbone loss is silent, and may go unnoticed until your teeth become loose. This is one of many reasons for the importance of regular visits to the dentist.  Through X-rays and other examinations, your dentist will catch signs of dental problems in their early stages, thus preventing damage and further complications. 

Treatment for jawbone loss

The best treatment for jawbone loss will depend on its cause. Whether your jawbone loss is caused by infection in your gums, teeth, or bone, the infection needs to be treated first.  If the bone loss is caused by a tumor, cyst, or other growth, that will need to be treated first as well. Once the cause of the bone loss has been addressed, a dental bone graft can be used to rebuild the jawbone to prepare you for dental implants. Your bone graft will help make you a better candidate for dental implants, but it’s important to remember that the bone graft will need to heal for a few months before the implant can be placed. 

Rebuild your jawbone to prepare for dental implants in San Diego

Dental implants are the sturdiest, longest-lasting, and most natural-looking option for replacing missing teeth. If you’re missing teeth, but you’re not sure if you have sufficient bone to support dental implants, come see Dr. Kennie Kwok at San Diego Periodontics and Implant Surgery. Dr. Kwok is Board Certified in both periodontology and dental implant surgery, and he has extensive experience taking patients through every stage of the dental implant process, from evaluation to bone graft and from implant surgery all the way to a brand new smile. If you’re ready to replace your missing teeth and restore the radiance of your smile, give us a call at (619) 543-0905 to schedule your dental implant consultation today.

How Missing Teeth Will Affect the Face and Jawbone by San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

Anyone who has missing teeth knows that they can put a serious damper on your willingness to smile or laugh in the company of others. A full set of teeth is a sign of health and beauty, and missing teeth are usually accompanied by a loss of confidence. But it can get much worse than that if you don’t replace them. Missing teeth can make it difficult to chew or speak properly, and they can even change the structure of your face and jawbone, distorting your facial features so you no longer look like you. 

How missing teeth affect the jawbone

As much as it may sound like we’re trying to scare you into coming in to talk about tooth replacement options (And, yes, we are. It really is that important.), everything we’re saying is true. Your missing teeth will result in the collapse of your entire face if you don’t have them replaced.  Here’s how it works: 

Your teeth and your jaw have a mutually beneficial relationship. The jawbone anchors the teeth in place while you chew and talk and laugh and bite. And in turn, all that activity stimulates the growth and strength of your jawbone, giving it a purpose to keep doing what it’s doing. But as soon as a tooth is removed from the socket, whether due to decay, accident, or injury, the bone begins to deteriorate.  

Bone tissue is maintained by use, and the deterioration happens quickly. If a missing tooth is not replaced, as much as 25% of the bone beneath it can melt away within the first few months. By 6 months, it can be as much as 50%. It doesn’t stop at the bone beneath that single missing tooth, however. The deterioration spreads, causing the remaining teeth to shift out of alignment or become loose and fall out. As the process continues and you lose more teeth without replacing them, it becomes difficult to eat and speak properly. And you quickly add decades to your appearance. 

How missing teeth affect the face

Your upper and lower jawbones account for a third of your face.  As the bone becomes reabsorbed by the body due to disuse, your face loses its underlying structure. With less and less jawbone to support your facial features as you know them, here’s what happens:

  • Your cheeks collapse inward
  • Your skin begins to sag
  • Your lips fold inward 
  • The distance between your chin and nose becomes smaller
  • Your nose appears larger
  • An overall facial collapse adds years to your appearance

Additionally, you may develop sinus problems, and while this may not directly affect the way you look, it can certainly affect the way you feel and your quality of life. As your teeth shift and the bite becomes misaligned, it becomes difficult to chew, which will not only change your enjoyment of food but it can also negatively impact your nutritional intake, potentially leading to issues with overall health. 

So what’s the solution? Replace your missing teeth as soon as possible. 

What is the best tooth-replacement option?

There are a number of different tooth replacement options available, but the dental implant is the only one that preserves the jawbone (and therefore the facial structure). While other options use prosthetics to replace only the crown of the tooth, dental implants replace both the crown and the root. By surgically embedding the implant into the jawbone, it does the job of a natural tooth root, providing the stimulation the jawbone needs to stay strong and healthy.  However, if your teeth have been missing for a long time, you may not have sufficient jawbone density to support an implant. If this is the case, a dental bone graft can be used to help build up the jawbone prior to the implant procedure. 

Need dental implants? Come see us at San Diego Periodontics and Implant Dentistry!

Dental implants and dental bone grafts are extensive surgeries. The best chances of implant success come when it’s done by someone who specializes in the procedures. If you’re missing teeth and want to replace them with dental implants, with or without dental bone grafts, you’ll appreciate the precision and artistry Dr. Kwok brings to his practice.

As a Board Certified specialist in periodontology and dental implant surgery, Dr. Kwok has the skill and experience needed to provide his patients with excellent implant results and a positive experience. Give us a call at 619-543-0905 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to discussing what we can do to restore your most attractive and healthiest smile today.