We all know that our teeth are firmly held in their sockets. However, have you ever wondered what makes the teeth stay in their socket, no matter how much force is applied? Well, it's a combination of two things- the periodontal fibers that attach the tooth to the bone and the bone density of the jaw itself. As we age and neglect our dental health, there are many detrimental changes that take place in our oral cavity.
To begin with, as plaque and calculus accumulate around the teeth, they first wreak havoc on the gums, leading to numerous gum diseases, and then, when these diseases spread further to the jawbone, it leads to periodontal diseases and bone loss in jaw.
As mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of jaw bone loss is periodontal diseases. When gum diseases are not dealt with, then the gum inflammation or gingivitis will eventually progress towards the underlying bone of the jaw and lead to bone loss. Sometimes, this bone loss may even occur is cases of an infection where, after there has been pulpitis, there is necrosis of the pulp. This leads to a tooth abscess.
In this condition, there is destruction of the periapical bone, which is the bone present in the immediate vicinity of the tooth root tip. Sometimes, an isolated jawbone infection may also lead to bone loss, whereas at times, there may be severe bone loss in jaw for no reason at all, which is known as acute necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis. In such cases, despite the person having acceptable oral hygiene, there is still progressive bone loss and destruction seen.
There are many tell-tale signs of bone loss in the jaw. These include:
- The most visible symptom associated with bone loss will be tooth mobility. As the underlying bone has become weak or the structure has been lost due to disease, the tooth will not be held strongly in its socket. Due to this, it will be slightly mobile in its socket, which can be felt while eating food.
- As a periodontal disease is almost always an aftermath of a gum disease, gingivitis symptoms will almost always be seen. Thus, the person will more often than not have swollen gums around tooth (which will often be tender), pain in gums, increased tendency of gums to bleed. In fact, another symptom in the initial stages is bleeding gums when brushing and eating, along with tooth mobility.
- A sign that the disease has progressed from the gums to bone lies in receding gums. When the attachment of the gum line recedes and goes below the normal attachment level, it means that bone loss in jaw is very likely to be seen soon.
- Sometimes, patients may have bad breath or halitosis associated with their condition. One of the signs of loss of bone in the jaw is the presence of periodontal pockets, when sensed with a probe.
The treatment for bone loss in teeth will depend on the underlying cause. In most cases, regrettably, there is very little to no chance of the bone recovering completely. The first step that needs to be taken is to do deep cleaning of teeth, so as to remove any deep seated plaque and calculus. Then, the condition of the bone is evaluated with the help of X-rays and an individual patient-wise treatment plan is chalked out. In some cases, a bone graft surgery may be of help to treat such cases.
Dental bone loss is a serious symptom and needs to be taken seriously, as it may otherwise lead to irreversible damage to the bone, and may affect the overall dental health of the individual.