Roughly half of U.S. adults suffer from periodontal disease. Those whose condition advance into later stages often suffer from bone loss in their upper and lower jaw.
What is dental bone loss?
Your teeth contain minerals that lend to the bones’ strength and density. When those minerals start to deplete, bone loss occurs. In severe cases, the jaw bones loosen and possible removal may be recommended.
What causes dental bone loss?
Dental bone loss is primarily caused by periodontal disease. This condition forms by not properly flossing and brushing the teeth well. When plaque, a sticky bio-film developed from your mouth’s bacteria, hardens it gets into the spaces between and around the teeth. As the plaque builds up in layers, the gums become inflamed. The bacteria gradually eats into the bone surrounding the teeth, causing it to loosen or rot if left untreated.
There are other conditions that can cause bone loss in your mouth. These conditions include osteoporosis, which is a disease that attacks the bone and weakens it until it becomes very fragile, and peri-implantitis, an infection caused by bacteria growing around implanted teeth.
How you can prevent bone loss?
The best way to prevent bone loss is ensuring the plaque on your teeth is removed as much as possible. Learn how to clean your teeth properly, and regularly visit your dentist for a professional cleaning at least every six months.
What can be done at home to prevent or stop bone loss.
Here are the things you can do at home:
- Floss Your Teeth: Flossing cleans in between your teeth where brushing cannot. It removes food and bacteria in trapped spaces. To floss, gently place the string between your teeth and run it up and down to dislodge any food particles that may be caught. Then, slide the floss underneath the gums and remove anything stuck beneath the gum line. Water picks can also be of great help and serve the same purpose.
- Brush Your Teeth: You should brush your teeth at least twice a day. If your diet is heavy in sweets, brushing your teeth throughout the day keeps it free of harmful bacteria. Always floss afterward for the cleanest and healthiest results.
- Don’t rinse: Many people rinse their mouths with a glass of lukewarm water after flossing and brushing. You don’t want to rinse out your mouth because this removes the fluoride put into your toothpaste to protect your teeth. Instead, spit the excess toothpaste into the sink and flush it down the drain.
- Watch Your Diet: Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin C and D, calcium, and are including probiotics into your diet. Vitamin D and calcium maintain healthy bones, while Vitamin C helps to prevent gum disease. Probiotics found in foods like yogurt lessen effects of periodontal disease.
- Manage Blood Sugar: If you are a diabetic, it’s important for you to effectively manage your blood sugar in preventing or controlling periodontal disease.
How can a dentist treat dental bone loss?
There are a few procedures dentists do to prevent, stop, or repair bone loss.
The first step is deep cleaning the teeth’s surface down to the roots. This is done using a metal-tipped scaler. The equipment has a hooked metal blade with a narrow tip. It allows dentists to dig into the plaque and break it apart for its removal. An ultrasonic scaler is another tool used. This scaler moves the tip back and forth with the use of ultrasonic waves to remove plaque.
A dentist can also replace bone that has been lost through a bone grafting procedure. Bone from cadavers, bovine, or your body can be used to grow new bone in your jaw. The donor bone is crushed down and packed into your mouth where you need new bone. In time, growth develops around the crushed bone and forms a new one over time.
Losing bone is serious and expensive to fix. If you notice that your gums are bleeding, swollen, or sore, you are beginning to develop periodontal disease. Get it treated soon. It’ll lessen the chance of it deteriorating the bone in your mouth.
This article was reviewed and approved by a board certified dentist.