Your jaw is critical to many daily actions, and normal jaw function helps to support your teeth so that you can continue to enjoy good oral health. When one or more teeth are missing, it can lead to bone loss at the site of the missing tooth. This loss eventually leads to additional problems for both your appearance and your overall health.

Causes of Jawbone Loss & Deterioration

Bone tissue is maintained by use in the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise. When you chew and bite, the tooth roots stimulate the jawbone to keep it healthy, and ensure that it continues to provide a stable foundation for your teeth. If a tooth is missing, the portion of the jawbone that anchors the teeth in your mouth no longer receives this stimulation, and begins to break down, or resorb.

Common causes of jawbone deterioration include:

  • Tooth extractions – when a tooth is removed and not replaced, the body no longer uses or “needs” the bone tissue in that area, so it begins to deteriorate.
  • Periodontal disease – this condition infects the gums, and gradually destroys the supporting structures in your mouth. The more severe stages of the disease can cause bone deterioration and lead to tooth loss.
  • Dentures and dental bridges – these restorations are placed on the gums, but provide no stimulation for the underlying bone tissue.
  • Trauma – when teeth are knocked out or broken to the extend that no biting surface is left below the gum line, bone stimulation stops and the bone begins to resorb.
  • Misalignment – Issues in misalignment can create situations where some teeth no longer have opposing tooth structure. This causes the “unopposed” tooth to over-erupt and trigger bone deterioration. TMJ disorders, lack of treatment, and regular wear-and-tear on the teeth can also disrupt bone stimulation.
  • Osteomyelitis – this is a type of bacterial infection in the bone and bone marrow of the jaw. The inflammation caused by this infection reduces the blood supply to the bone, and often requires removal of the affected bone.
  • Tumors – benign facial tumors can grow and require a portion of the jaw to be removed. Malignant tumors almost always spread into the jaw and require the removal of the affected bone.
  • Developmental deformities – Some conditions and syndromes are characterized by missing teeth, or sections of facial bones, the jaw, or skull.
  • Sinus deficiencies – When molars are removed from the upper jaw, air pressure in the sinus can cause resorption in the bone that formerly kept the teeth in place, and cause the sinuses to become enlarged.

Effects of Jawbone Loss & Deterioration [Developer’s note: use H2 here.]

Some of the common problems caused by tooth loss and jawbone deterioration include:

  • Misaligned, drifting, or loose teeth
  • Further tooth loss
  • A collapsed facial profile
  • Distortion of other facial features
  • Skin wrinkling around the mouth
  • Jaw pain, TMJ dysfunction, facial pain, and headaches
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Poor nutrition (due to the inability to chew correctly)
  • Sinus expansion

At Ocean Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we are committed to helping you regain healthy jaw function through bone grafting and other treatments. We invite you to contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. David McAninch and Dr. Robert Kiken and learn more about our bone grafting and other jaw treatments in Santa Barbara, California.