Your Monday blues this week have become bluer because of your dentist informing you that you are experiencing bone loss around all the lost teeth that were inflicted with gum disease or periodontitis.
But it shouldn’t be brand new information to you.
Considering you don’t brush your teeth properly
Flossing is something you’ve never heard of
And scaling is not even a concept to you
And to add on to it, you smoke like a chimney!
However now that you have finally paid a visit to your dentist and are informed of the major consequence of not taking your oral hygiene seriously, you have finally decided to not let it go any further.
So let me tell you How To Prevent Further Bone Loss In Teeth.
First and foremost, get regular scaling done. Once you have started doing that, learn the accurate brushing and flossing techniques and do it religiously!
Stop smoking and be more vigilant towards your diet.
Take foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, D and E and boost your body’s natural defences to help fight the bacteria and improve your oral health.
Let’s see what more there is to learn about bone loss in teeth!
How Do I Know If I Have Bone Loss In My Teeth?
The alveolar bone of the jaw which keeps the teeth in their confined position stays the way it’s supposed to be as long as the teeth are there and are continuously used for their major function: mastication.
But when they are subjected to gum disease and it has progressed towards the recession of the gums and the loosening of the teeth, the function of mastication or chewing is interfered and this is where the alarming situation of bone loss begins.
That’s because your bone will stay healthy only till the function of mastication is being carried out.
As soon as a tooth is lost, the bone starts resorbing.
Also when the teeth are misaligned, it makes it hard for you to be able to chew properly which causes the bone to lose its density and volume.
Other than that, there are certain systemic conditions in which bone loss occurs faster than usual.
One such problem is diabetes. In diabetics, research shows the ratio of bone resorbing cells to bone forming cells is higher. This simply means that there is more bone loss in those who have diabetes.
Therefore if you are a diabetic, you must make sure that you are taking extra care of your teeth.
Another condition in which there is significant bone loss is osteoporosis. It is a disease where the bone loses its density and becomes porous leading to pain as well as easy breakage of the bone.
Coming to the alveolar bone, when the density and the volume of the bone are lost, the teeth start becoming loose in their sockets and eventually fall.
In such a condition there is not much you can do apart from taking your medicines regularly, keeping a staunch oral hygiene routine and eating a healthy diet full of vitamin D and calcium.
Yet since the most common condition behind bone loss is periodontitis, the first sign is the loosening of the teeth.
Since I as a dentist only want goodness for you, please start considering that you are having bone loss as soon as your gums start bleeding or the tartar becomes visible.
Get it cleaned so that it does not progress to the point where you have to give your bone up! And if you are a smoker, please muster some compassion for your heart, lungs, kidneys, jaw and your teeth.
How Do You Slow Down Bone Loss In Teeth?
If you fall in the category where you have already lost several teeth either due to periodontitis or multiple extractions, there is still a way to slow down the bone loss.
And that is by giving the bone what it needs i.e. function.
As I have already mentioned that bone loss occurs when the process of chewing is interfered or not being carried out, getting a prosthetic tooth, either through an implant or a denture in place of the missing teeth is the most important step to not let it progress any further.
Apart from that, if you are getting your scaling done every six months, are regularly brushing and flossing your teeth the right way and are keeping a healthy diet, the bone loss can slow down to a considerable extent.
But, but, but! With all these things, if your bone is not receiving what it truly needs, it won’t stop making the bone resorbing cells and the bone will continue to resorb even if it’s a teensy bit slower.
Hence, by replacing all the teeth you’ve already lost and taking extra good care of the ones that are left, you are good to go.
Can You Reverse Bone Loss In Teeth?
The ongoing advances in medical sciences have made everything possible. Previously when loose teeth were deemed hopeless due to the loss of periodontal ligament, no one would have thought that in later years, the dental science would be able to treat that as well.
Even though there is still more room for advancement and for the treatment to work in every case, the invention of Enamel Matrix Protein (EMP) gels is revolutionary!
To understand this, we need a little backstory.
When our teeth are first forming, the enamel matrix proteins are secreted naturally onto the root surface of the teeth.
They create an environment which makes it favorable for the teeth to get attached to the bone. The EMP gels do the same to adult teeth.
They trick the bone into making more bone forming cells and stop the formation of the cells that eat it.
But first, the periodontist will assess each tooth individually to decide if they are favorable for this treatment or not.
Once they are sure, they will go about the procedure as there is a variety of both surgical and non-surgical treatments using EMP gels for bone growth available.
This means that once the bone has grown, loose teeth will tighten and the recession of gums can be reversed.
Treatments For Bone Loss In Teeth
The enamel matrix protein gels that I have mentioned above are not the only way to treat bone loss.
Even though they trick the bone into making new bone forming cells, they don’t always work and take a lot of time to show results.
Therefore the dental science has come up with several other ways to treat alveolar bone loss.
The most trusted way is the grafting of regenerative bone. This treatment is prescribed to all those patients who have lost so much bone that there is no room for implants.
What the doctors do is they take a bone graft either from the jaw or the hip bone of the same person and place it to replace the missing bone in and around the teeth.
What happens next is that the osteoblasts aka the bone forming cells are activated, causing regeneration of the bone. After everything has healed, the bone is fit for implants as well as other fixed prostheses.
This is a surgical procedure in which synthetic bone tissue is added to the ridge to reestablish it to its desired height and shape. This is a wonderful procedure and has amazing prognosis.
But all of these procedures are invasive and may not be everyone’s piece of cake.
They require both time and money, many people want an easy way out!
Although not even close to being effective as the ones mentioned above, composite bonding to reshape the teeth and hiding the hollow black triangles visible due to bone loss is one quick way of achieving your aesthetic teeth.
But this will only make the appearance of your teeth look good, and won’t do anything for the bone loss.
Ending The Bony Talk
Your mouth is the gateway to your body
your smile the gateway to your personality.
Both of these are extremely important. But if you won’t even brush your teeth properly and let all the gunky bacteria in the form of plaque and tartar buildup, it won’t be long when you will lose both your body and your personality!
If you are thinking that it’s just your teeth that create your smile, you are wrong.
That’s because your smile is nothing without the supporting structures of the teeth and the bone that is holding them together in place. If it’s lost, your smile is lost too.
The main reason behind bone loss around teeth is gum disease that later progresses to periodontitis.
As soon as the teeth become loose, the bone starts resorbing. Another possible reason is misalignment of teeth which interferes with the process of mastication.
And when the bone is not receiving what it needs to stay put, it starts activating the cells that eat bone. It’s also possible that the bone loss is occurring due to the presence of any systemic conditions, such as diabetes and osteoporosis.
However it’s possible to slow down the process of bone resorption by getting prosthetic teeth in place of the ones that are lost and maintaining the oral hygiene of the ones that are left.
It’s also possible to reverse bone loss. Sadly you can’t do it naturally but by introducing enamel matrix protein to the adult bone, the periodontists think that they can trick it into producing more bone forming cells, making it possible for the teeth to tighten again and the gum to come back to its place.
This is not a popular process and works only in a few cases.
Therefore the treatments that periodontists swear by are regenerative bone graft and ridge augmentation. While in the former, a small piece of bone is taken out of the hip or jaw of the same person and placed around the teeth,
The latter involves synthetic bone tissue being added to the ridge. Both these treatments can provide excellent results with great prognosis.
Nonetheless, all of this is time taking and can cost you a fortune.
Therefore what’s even better is that you keep a good check of your oral hygiene and get regular teeth cleaning done.
If you are a smoker, start reducing the cigarettes you smoke and if you can, quit altogether.
Please make sure that your diet is filled with vitamin C, D, E and calcium, and you are not missing a day of flossing!
All of this and you won’t ever have to compromise on that wonderful smile!
Oxford Book of Clinical Dentistry
Newman and Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology