Your body goes through a multitude of changes as you age. However, some changes are less noticeable than others. Take your jawbone, for example. Like many other bones in your body, your jawbone changes over time, which can alter your appearance, your eating habits and maybe even your health. If you have certain conditions, such as tooth loss, your bones might even deteriorate at a faster rate. Following are four things that might make your oral bones deteriorate prematurely.
Tooth extractions are common. In fact, the majority of people are missing at least one tooth, and the number only increases with age. Once a tooth is removed, the portion of the jawbone that's left behind begins to deteriorate rapidly because the bone is no longer receiving the stimulation it needs to regenerate. When you still have your natural teeth, the process of biting and chewing supplies the necessary stimulation.
If you're missing all your teeth and wear dentures, you can expect to lose jawbone very quickly. On average, people experience approximately 25 percent bone loss within one year of having their teeth removed. After three years, about 60 percent of the bone is gone. Most of the loss occurs on the bottom jawbone, which contributes to the jowled appearance that plagues many denture wearers. Dentures can help slow bone loss, but they do not provide as much stimulation to the bone as natural teeth.
Gum disease, called gingivitis, and periodontitis can eventually lead to bone degeneration if they are not treated. In both of these conditions, the gums and surrounding tissues become inflamed due to the constant presence of bacteria. Over time, bone deterioration can occur, causing the teeth to loosen. In some cases, the teeth have to be removed, which only accelerates the bone loss.
When your teeth are seriously misaligned, they cannot exert pressure on the other teeth, which limits that amount of stimulation your jawbone receives. Since stimulation is responsible for bone growth and rebuilding, bone loss can occur.
In all of these cases, bone loss can be prevented and treated. Instead of living without teeth, permanent implants and anchored dentures can provide the stimulation and pressure that you need to prevent bone degeneration. Both gum disease and misalignment issues are treatable as well. If bone loss does occur over time, surgical procedures, such as bone grafts, may help restore your jawbone.