Bone Loss in Teeth: Signs and Causes

bone loss in teeth
Table of Contents

Bone loss in teeth, also known as alveolar/periodontal bone loss or osteonecrosis of the jaw, refers to the reduction of the bone surrounding and supporting the teeth.

This condition is often associated with tooth loss or certain dental diseases. It can lead to tooth loosening, bite misalignment, and various oral deformities, posing important complications for dental health.

Several methods and treatments are available to prevent and reduce bone loss, such as dental implants or bone grafts.

Here’s a heads up of what you’ll read by the end of this article:

  • Bone loss in teeth is a serious health issue
  • It must be treated professionally
  • There are several ways to prevent and slow it down
  • There are available treatments such as bone graft and LANAP (laser-assisted new attachment procedure)

What Is Bone Loss in Teeth?

When the jawbone that supports your teeth deteriorates, it results in bone loss in teeth. This can happen due to untreated tooth loss or conditions such as periodontitis. Both the upper (maxilla) and lower (mandibular) jawbone can be affected. Regardless of age, anyone can experience bone loss.

What Causes Bone Loss in Teeth?

Bone loss in teeth can be caused by many external or internal factors including;

  • Traumas
  • Injuries
  • Missing Teeth
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Infections
  • Tumors
bone loss in teeth

Signs of Early and Advanced Bone Loss

Recognizing the early signs of bone loss in teeth will make it easier to manage the condition before it gets worse.

Below we’ve put together a handy table to help you recognize them:

Early SignsAdvanced Signs
Increase in tooth sensitivityDifficulty speaking
Discomfort when chewingLimited ability to chew
Exposed tooth rootsMalocclusion
Bad breathLips sinking inward
New gaps between your teethWrinkles in the mouth area
Bleeding gumsLoose tooth
Sharp painFacial structure collapse

Is Dental Bone Loss Serious?

Yes, dental bone loss is a serious problem. If left untreated, the jawbone will wear down even further, causing you to lose more teeth. What’s more is that it won’t just stop with your tooth, it can change your facial structure, leading to difficulties in speaking and eating, alongside the pain.

That’s why regular dental care and addressing dental issues as soon as possible is crucial to prevent further complications and maintain your oral health.

How Quickly Does Bone Loss Occur in Teeth?

According to a 1982 study published in the Journal of Periodontology, alveolar bone loss can happen very fast. Like, we’re talking about within a 6 to12 month period. However, how quickly it happens depends on some factors. For instance, if you’re over 35 and have had a tooth removed without getting an implant, the process of deterioration could occur more rapidly compared to someone in their 20s facing the same situation. Other factors that speed up this process include:

  • Calcium deficiency
  • Sinus issues
  • Poor alignment
  • Congenital disorders that affect bones
  • Smoking
  • Dentures
  • Trauma induced deformities
  • Calcium deficiency

So, if you are in doubt, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible for an early diagnosis.

How Much Bone Needs to Be Lost Before Tooth Fallout?

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, front teeth with 50% bone loss, premolars with 48% bone loss, and molars with 42% bone loss are considered lost and should be extracted. Otherwise, there is a possibility that the teeth may fall out themselves and this can lead to bigger problems. This is why early care is essential.

At What Age Does Bone Loss Start?

Bone loss usually begins around age 35, similar to age-related skeletal osteopenia. As we age, we experience a gradual decrease in bone mass, affecting various body parts, including the jaw. However, this age might not be the same for everyone as we all have different lifestyles, hereditary backgrounds, and different environmental factors to which we are exposed.

Is Bone Loss Reversible?

If you are not experiencing a complete loss, it is still not too late to prevent the situation from getting worse. However, already lost bones don’t naturally regenerate themselves. Don’t worry though, thanks to treatments such as bone graft and LANAP (laser-assisted new attachment procedure), you can strengthen this area.

For grafts, dentists can replace the tissue taken from another area or they can fill the area with synthetic powders. They can also make soft tissue grafts for receding gums that are supposed to cover your bones. However, grafted bones will not be as strong as your natural bone but they still fill the area quite firmly and help you maintain your dental health.

How to Treat Bone Loss in Teeth Naturally

Unfortunately, complete bone loss in teeth is not possible to treat naturally. However, you can prevent it and slow down the process with good oral hygiene habits and precautions you take before it is too late. Also, don’t forget that you can find out if it’s too late by visiting a clinic. After they make sure through various tests and imaging, you can discuss available options with a dental professional.

What Vitamin Is Good for Bone Loss in Teeth?

Vitamins A, B, C, D, and K are crucial for bone loss in teeth. It is also necessary to get enough calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

How to Slow Down Bone Loss in Teeth

To slow down and prevent bone loss in teeth, you can try the following:

  • Good oral hygiene habits
  • A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Regular dental check-ups
  • Gingivitis treatment

There might be other ways for your specific situation to slow down the process of bone loss apart from our recommendations. For this, it’s best to consult a dental professional to find out those options.

How Expensive Is Bone Graft?

The cost of a bone graft depends on several factors such as the type of graft, surgeon’s expertise, and the location of the medical center. It can range anywhere from $200 to $3000 and can include the procedure, anesthesia, hospital or surgical facility fees, as well as additional supplies or equipment used.

Also, don’t forget that insurance coverage can affect out-of-pocket costs for bone grafting procedures. So, it’s best to check with your insurance provider to understand coverage and potential financial responsibilities.

References:
  1. Page RD, Altman LC, Ebersole JL, et al. Rapidly Progressive Periodontitis: A Distinct Clinical Condition. Journal of Periodontology. 1983;54(4):197-209. doi:https://doi.org/10.1902/jop.1983.54.4.197
  2. Splieth C, Giesenberg J, Fanghanel J, Bernhardt O, Kocher T. Periodontal attachment level of extractions presumably performed for periodontal reasons. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. 2002;29(6):514-518. doi:https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-051x.2002.290607.x
  3. Gulsahi A, Paksoy C, Ozden S, Kucuk N, Cebeci A, Genc Y. Assessment of bone mineral density in the jaws and its relationship to radiomorphometric indices. Dentomaxillofacial Radiology. 2010;39(5):284-289. doi:https://doi.org/10.1259/dmfr/20522657

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