Bone loss in the mouth is when there is a loss of the alveolar bone that surrounds and supports the teeth. The bone can recede away from the teeth for any number of reasons. When the bone recedes away, there is less structure to support the teeth, and in later stages, there may be tooth mobility or even tooth loss. Listed below are several causes of bone loss and how to prevent it.
Gum disease consists of gingivitis, which is gum inflammation, and periodontitis. Gum disease is inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth, such as the bone and the ligament. There is often no adverse effect to the bone during gingivitis. However, when gingivitis isn’t treated and turns into periodontitis, the bone can begin receding away. This is caused by bacteria build-up on the teeth and gums that cause damage to the bone and the ligament. Gum pockets are created when the bone is lost, between the teeth and the gums, which can make it more challenging to keep clean. To prevent bone loss caused by gum disease, make sure not to skip your regular dental cleanings and checkups and to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day to prevent bacteria accumulation.
Loss of a tooth causes bone loss in the area of the missing tooth because there is no longer a tooth present to hold the bone at the correct level. The alveolar bone uses the teeth and their roots as placement, so when the tooth is lost (due to extraction or trauma), the bone has nothing keeping it at the proper level. The bone will appear to dip down and create an indentation where there is a tooth missing, and this will lead to problems in the future when trying to fill the space. Dental implants are the gold standard in tooth replacement, and they may require a bone graft if there is not enough bone support. To prevent bone loss caused by tooth loss, it is essential to place an implant sooner rather than later.
Excessive pressure placed on a tooth or teeth will cause bone loss over time. The excessive pressure can be caused by several different factors such as clenching or grinding habits, or malocclusion. What these conditions have in common is that too much pressure is placed on just a few teeth, and the bone surrounding those teeth cannot withstand the force. The bone will begin receding away. The prevention of bone loss from excessive pressure depends on the cause. For clenching and grinding, it is important to wear a nightguard that takes the pressure off the teeth. For malocclusion, it may be beneficial to get braces to align the teeth and fix the bite.