What is Dental Bone Loss?


Dental bone loss, which is the loss of bone in the jaw and the areas around the teeth, is relatively common. Most of the time, dental bone loss happens because of untreated gum disease, which is caused by an excessive buildup of bacterial plaque that invades the gums, bone, and other oral tissues and gradually destroys them. As gum disease advances into the bone and connective tissues in the oral cavity, it becomes periodontal disease; while dental bone loss can affect people with otherwise healthy teeth, it is most common among older people and people with periodontal disease.


When the bone that supports the teeth in the jaw is infected or diseased, the tissue is compromised and deteriorates, causing the teeth to loosen and move in the mouth, eventually falling out. Bone loss also occurs when a tooth is extracted or otherwise removed through trauma or force; in the absence of a tooth root, the bone is no longer stimulated and is reabsorbed back into the body, causing the jaw and gums to appear shrunken and sunken. If you notice that your teeth have started to loosen or seem to move, or if your gums are swollen, discolored, or bleed while brushing, you may have gum disease and may be experiencing bone loss. When it is intercepted early on, gum disease can be reversed, but when it is allowed to progress, it destroys oral tissues, so if anything seems off, make an appointment with your dentist. Other signs of periodontal disease and bone loss can include visible or noticeable gaps forming between the teeth, teeth that are mobile, bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth, and visibly receding gums.


While proper oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease, there are several risk factors that increase the risk of gum disease and can also accelerate its progression. One of the most influential risk factors that increases the likelihood of gum disease and bone loss is smoking. Smoking has been proven irrefutably to increase the risk of gum disease developing and to also dramatically escalate the amount of damage that occurs. Smoking during treatment for periodontal disease or bone loss has also been shown to diminish the efficacy of treatment. Other risk factors for bone loss include inadequate nutrition and multiple medical conditions. Be sure to tell your dentist about any medical conditions you have and medications you take, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance in establishing and maintaining healthy habits to keep gum disease and bone loss at bay. With a routine that includes effective and regular brushing and flossing, behavior modification that helps you avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use, a balanced diet, and well-managed medical conditions, you and your dentist can help prevent you from losing your dental bone.


If you do experience dental bone loss, there are many treatment methods that can be used to save the teeth and bone. Periodontal therapy can reverse the effects of periodontal disease and help restore the bone and oral tissues to health, and when bone loss has already occurred, regenerative therapies like bone grafting and guided tissue regeneration can restore bone tissue and help support the teeth. Bone tissue can also be grafted and regenerated following the loss of a tooth, which may be necessary to safely and effectively place dental implants and replace the missing tooth with a permanent, lifelike prosthetic tooth.

Dental Implants Can Stop Bone Loss