Bone loss in your jaw, particularly the lower jaw, can lead to loose teeth and infections. Preventing and treating bone loss depends somewhat on the cause, but there are strategies that apply to most sufferers. Begin by understanding the common causes and treatments, and then visit your dentist for more help.
Periodontal disease, also called gingivitis or gum disease, is the primary cause of bone loss. Bacteria gets underneath teeth, via the infected gums, and eats away at the bone.
Periodontal disease has many causes, but certain outside influences can make it more likely to occur. These include poor dental hygiene, smoking, certain medications, skipped cleanings, and poor eating habits. Those with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can also be more prone to periodontal disease.
Preventing bone loss begins with proper hygiene. Keep regular annual appointments with your dentist, and have your teeth professionally cleaned each year. Annual cleanings remove tartar and calculus buildup on your teeth, which prevents bacteria from getting below the gum line and infecting the bone.
Also, don't skip daily brushing and flossing. Flossing isn't meant to just remove food from between your teeth – it also helps remove the tartar that begins to form near the gum line.
If you already have some bone loss, there are still treatment options available. First, your dentist will need to get rid of the infection, which usually requires antibiotics. Then, they will likely need to extract the teeth in the area suffering bone loss. This is because bone loss results in a pocket around the roots of the affected teeth, and bacteria will eventually fill this pocket again and cause further infection and bone loss.
Once a tooth is pulled, your jaw bone can continue to deteriorate. The jawbone depends on constant stimulation from chewing to remain strong. Once teeth are pulled and roots are no longer anchored in it, it begins to recede. The best solution to prevent this is to get dental implants installed for the extracted teeth.
If you have sufficient bone remaining, your dentist will fit you with implants that go directly into the jaw bone, looking just like your real teeth. Implants are a good option whether you need to replace a full set of teeth, or just one or two.
For cases where there is too much loss to set implants, your dentist may be able to perform a bone graft. For this, they will use bone from another part of your body or a synthetic bone-like material. Once the graft takes, the implants are placed and healing begins.
Contact a local dentist about implants if bone loss has robbed you of some of your teeth, or if you need more information on preventing bone loss.
To learn more, contact a dentist like Thomas H. Seal DDS.