Bone Loss In The Jaw Area

Bone Loss In The Jaw Area

Our Ipswich dental team explains the causes and potential consequences of bone loss.

To the layman, a dentist is concerned with looking after teeth and our regular blogs may have also helped to explain the importance of good gum health too.

In today’s blog, we are going to take a look at a third area which few would, perhaps, associate with dental care.

The quantity and quality of the bone in the jaw can have a profound effect on the condition of our mouth and may even limit the options available to replace any teeth that may have been lost, for example with implants.

Bone loss – the causes

There are a number of factors which can lead to a reduction in the quantity and quality of bone in the jaw. One of the most common is following the loss of a tooth. When a tooth has been extracted, or falls out, the bone no longer has to play a role in keeping the tooth securely in position, and, as a muscle atrophies when not used, the quantity of bone in the jaw will gradually start to reduce.

Another potential cause of bone loss in the jaw area is when gum disease is not treated in its earlier form and is allowed to advance. This leads to an aggressive form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Not only does this affect the gums, but also works its way to the roots of the tooth and affects the bone in which the teeth are held. Gradually, the bacteria eat away at the bone, causing a reduction in mass.

Some other factors may also contribute to bone loss, including the side effects of some medications such as long term steroid use. As such we always ask that our local Ipswich dental patients should always keep us informed of any changes in medicines during their regular appointments at the Foxhall Dental Practice.

The consequences

Aside from any discomfort and other unpleasant side effects of periodontitis, a reduction in bone loss may cause teeth to gradually work loose, eventually reaching the point where they are held in position only by the fleshy gums. These teeth will offer little practical use and may well eventually fall out. Where a tooth has been lost, along with subsequent bone loss, this can have a number of adverse effects. Especially where more than one tooth is missing, this can cause changes to the shape of the face, resulting in an ageing appearance, and, for denture wearers, may mean that they do not fit correctly and move around in the mouth.


It is important to avoid gum disease for any number of reasons, and not just potential bone loss. Regular inspection and cleaning by the hygienist, along with good home care, is the best way to help. Where a tooth has been lost however, patients might like to consider having it replaced with a dental implant. The artificial root, placed as part of this procedure, is an excellent way of preserving the bone as well as providing the patient with a strong replacement tooth.

Finally, where bone loss has already occurred, it may still be possible to place a dental implant but where the loss is significant though, it may be necessary to perform a bone graft, prior to the procedure, in order to provide a strong foundation into which an implant can be placed.

For more information about any areas of dental or oral health concern, please call the Foxhall Dental Practice on 01473 258396.