What do we mean by teeth bone loss or dental bone loss?
Teeth bone loss, as used in this article, means the loss of jaw bone around the teeth or their roots. Dental bone loss, as used here, refers specifically to the loss of jaw bone in areas that are usually not directly associated with teeth. Sometimes both kinds of bone loss occur in the same jaw.
For most people, bone loss is often associated with a disease called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a medical condition of decreased bone density that can occur in any of the bones in the body, including jaw bones. Since osteoporosis, may show on dental x-rays, a dentist may be the first person to suspect the presence of osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis can occur in the jaw bones, the primary scope of the information on this page is limited to non-medical causes of jaw bone loss.
Bone is a biologically active tissue and it is sensitive to conditions that impact it negatively. A major cause of teeth bone loss is infections that involve the nerve in the roots of the teeth, as occurs with an abscessed tooth, or infections around the gum line of teeth, as seen in gum disease. Usually teeth bone loss occurs at the site of the infection. Sometimes, for reasons that are still not entirely known, teeth bone loss will occur when there is no infection. Teeth can also cause dental bone loss. When teeth cause dental bone loss, the bone loss appears not to be connected to any teeth, even though it is. This kind of dental bone loss is usually caused by infections that are associated with previously extracted teeth, or embryonic buds of teeth that never develop.
In contrast, most dental bone loss is not directly associated with teeth. For instance, it can be caused by benign or malignant tumors that either originate in the jaws or spread to the jaws from other sites in the body. In addition to tumors, medical conditions, such as Paget’s disease, may produce dental bone loss. So can medically prescribed drugs. For example, a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, when given intravenously, has been linked to a serious condition that results in jaw bone infection and bone loss that is difficult to control. People taking bisphosphonate drugs in oral form are also at risk, although the jaw bone infection and bone loss take more time to occur because the oral drugs accumulate more slowly in the body.
So let’s take a closer look at some of these causes of teeth bone loss and dental bone loss.
The causes of dental bone loss or teeth bone loss
Gum infections are the most common reason for teeth bone loss
Typically, gum infections are chronic, meaning the infection is present for months or even years. This will result in bone loss around the tooth or teeth with the infection. Most chronic gum infections are painless, and are easily ignored by some people, even if bleeding, tarter and bad breath are present. This is unfortunate, because the germs that infect gums are a burden to the immune system, and they easily spread via open blood vessels in the infected gums to other parts of the body. There is some scientific evidence that germs from infected gums can settle in coronary arteries and contribute to the creation of plaque in the coronary arteries, and thus, to heart disease.
Sometimes chronic gum disease can become acute and painful, especially if the bone loss around a tooth has become extensive. It can take years for chronic gum infections to reach an acute stage. When this happens, the body may not be able to heal the infection adequately, and one or more teeth may need to be extracted, or they may even come out by themselves because of the extensive teeth bone loss.
Not all gum disease is chronic in nature. A relatively rare and aggressive form of gum disease, called aggressive periodontitis, often occurs in young people. Sometimes it is known as juvenile periodontitis, or early onset periodontitis. Aggressive periodontitis gets worse faster than chronic periodontitis. It usually begins at puberty and is more common in girls than in boys. Aggressive periodontitis is characterized by severe teeth bone loss around the six year molars and the front teeth. In both chronic and aggressive gum disease, germs from dental plaque are present.
The usual clinical signs of gum disease, such as inflammation and bleeding, do not typically occur with aggressive periodontitis. Dental plaque accumulation tends to be light. In spite of the absence of the symptoms of inflammation, and bleeding, young people with widespread, severe aggressive periodontitis are at high risk for tooth loss, sometimes within a year after the disease first occurs.
People with compromised immune systems from diabetes or AIDS, or immune suppressing drugs used for organ transplants may likewise experience gum infections with significant teeth bone loss that occurs rapidly. These people are also at greater risk for losing teeth from gum disease than are people with chronic gum disease.
Another type of gum infection affects younger people who are under a lot of stress and who fail to eat nourishing meals, such as during school exams. They may sometimes develop a very painful type of gum infection called necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG).This unique form of gum infection, which usually occurs around the lower front teeth, sometimes results in teeth bone loss, although the most obvious symptom is the extreme pain. There is more information about NUG on the Causes of Sore Gums page.
Tooth Infections are the second most common reason for teeth bone loss
If you get an infection in a tooth from a cavity, or a cracked tooth, or a tooth that has been hit and injured, and the infection spreads via the nerve in the tooth root to the jaw bone surrounding the root tip, then the infection will eventually destroy some of the bone next to the tip of the tooth root. Teeth bone loss is especially true if the infection becomes chronic. Sometimes a chronic tooth infection may become acute, with pain and swelling. The common name for this condition is an abscess, because pus has formed where the infection has destroyed the bone. Sometimes the pus from a tooth abscess is released through a pimple like opening in the gums, called a fistula, on the side of the jaw next to the infected tooth. This usually reduces the pain and swelling, but not the infection. Infections causing teeth bone loss can also occur with partially or completely impacted teeth, such as wisdom teeth.
Occasionally an infection in the jaw bone becomes lined with skin cells. When this happens we call it a cyst. Like an abscess, cysts can cause teeth bone loss or dental bone loss, depending on whether a tooth is the source of the infection or not. Cysts do not contain pus and they are typically painless. Look at the Causes of Tooth Decay page for more information on tooth decay and holistic ways to keep your teeth healthy.
Root canal treatment of teeth sometimes causes teeth bone loss around the tips or ends of roots
Root canal treatment is intended to eliminate infection in a tooth by removing the infected nerve tissue inside the root or roots of a tooth and then filling the space that was occupied by the nerve with a special filling material called gutta percha. Assuming that the root canal space is completely filled and properly sealed by the dentist, any infection that has spread to the jaw bone at the end of the root or roots should then heal, including any pre-existing teeth bone loss from the infection.
Unfortunately, complete healing rarely happens. In most root canals, even if the root canal appears to be successful, a chronic infection persists within the jaw bone next to the tooth, without causing any symptoms to make you aware of the infection. You have no symptoms because your immune system is successfully containing the germs and toxins from the chronic infection.
Sometimes the chronic infection in the jaw bone will cause teeth bone loss to occur again around the end of the infected root or roots, because your immune system can no longer restrain the infection. This often happens when your immune system has to cope with some germ or virus you have been exposed to, or if you become excessively stressed by negative events and emotions in your life. If enough bone is destroyed, the teeth bone loss will become visible as a dark area on a dental x-ray. The dark area represents infected tissue that has replaced the lost bone. Dentists call this infected soft tissue a granuloma.
Another type of chronic infection in the jaw bone, called a cavitation, is sometimes associated with teeth that have had a root canal. This unique kind of infection destroys bone and causes both teeth and dental bone loss, although it is usually not visible on an x-ray, Cavitations are described further down in a separate section.
Chronic infections from gum disease, tooth infections, root canals and cavitations constantly stress and weaken your immune system. Dramatically increase your resistance to these dental infections by strengthening your immune system with Dr. Gilbert’s Supplement program consisting of specialized All natural, organic and whole food supplements.
Extraction of one or more teeth causes dental bone loss to occur where the tooth or teeth are removed
Keeping your teeth is critical, because your teeth help maintain the full height and thickness of your jaw bones. There are two reasons this may happen. The first is that the bone that surrounds the roots of all of our teeth depends upon the presence of these teeth for its very existence. This special and unique part of the dental jaw bone around the roots of teeth is called alveolar bone. It seems as though a tooth is needed to provide the physiologic stimulation required to maintain healthy alveolar bone around each tooth. If a tooth is lost from injury, or extracted for any reason, the alveolar bone will slowly be lost, even if there is no pre-existing dental infection. The jaw bone will heal the tooth socket where the tooth was, and replace some of the alveolar bone, but the jaw bone will not be as high as it was when a tooth was present.
What if you have the misfortune of losing one or more teeth? Under this circumstance, if a dental implant is placed immediately or shortly after this happens, the alveolar bone will often remain around the implant, and the bone loss will be minimized. The reason this happens is not fully understood, since ‘healed’ dental implants are rigid in the bone and do not seem to provide the same functional stimulus that a tooth would.
Another reason why it is so important to keep your teeth is to prevent a unique kind of dental bone loss called a Cavitation
Sometimes, after teeth are removed, complete healing does not take place, even though the extraction site appears to be healed. Instead, a symptomless area of dead bone, called a cavitation develops in the jaw bone beneath the apparently healed place where the tooth or teeth were removed. Cavitations are described in detail in the next section below.
Cavitations cause dental bone loss to occur in either jaw bone, although they are found mostly in the lower jaw bone. Cavitations are toxin-containing holes in the jawbone, often at the site of a previously extracted infected tooth. Cavitations are called by scientific names such as ischemic osteonecrosis, or, if pain is present, neuralgia inducing cavitational osteonecrosis (NICO). Most cavitations are painless, silent conditions which are difficult to diagnosis or detect, even with x-rays. Fortunately, An FDA approved ultrasonic device called a Cavitat, which can accurately find cavitations, has been invented specifically to locate and diagnosis cavitations in the jaw bones. Dental schools generally do not teach anything about cavitations, and often deny their very existence, even though jawbone cavitation is not a new disease, having been described in an oral pathology book written in the 1800’s.
A cavitation often develops because of incomplete healing after a routine extraction. It is believed that the process of healing and blood flow is impaired when there is pre-existing infection in the bone and a less than robust immune system to defend against and destroy the infection. Pre existing infection is most likely to be caused by a tooth with a root canal or from any infected tooth, especially a wisdom tooth. While the extraction site will invariably heal shut, the healing is often incomplete. Underneath the apparently healed over surface a hollow space forms in the bone marrow, which becomes a breeding ground for disease causing, or anaerobic, germs to grow, particularly when the blood supply is compromised. The result is a cavitation.
The contents of a cavitation consist of necrotic, dead or dying material with a high concentration of anaerobic bacteria and their bacterial toxins. The microscopic picture looks the same as gangrene, and like gangrene, the dead tissue will sicken the rest of the body. Until recently, treatment was limited to invasive, sometimes high risk and costly surgery to remove the dead tissue in the cavitation.
A safer non-surgical approach has since been developed which involves the use of ozone gas injected into the cavitation to destroy the toxic producing germs. Ozone therapy greatly increases the odds of healing cavitations without surgery, because ozone gas literally follows the infection, killing all the bugs, whether they are bacteria, fungi, or viruses. This greatly helps to enhance the immune system and promote healing. Biological dentists and holistic physicians who are trained to treat cavitations, can be found by using the “Find a Dentist” search feature on the home page of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), or you can contact Dr. Philip Mollica in New Jersey at 201-587-0222.
Medical Conditions, such as osteoporosis, non-dental infections, diabetes, tumors, developmental cysts in the jaws of a fetus growing in the womb, radiation treatment for tumors in the jaw bones, as well as certain medicines, may all cause both teeth bone loss and dental bone loss. At the beginning of this article, a class of drugs called bisphosphonates is described, that can produce severe, uncontrollable dental bone loss. It is beyond the scope of this website to include all the medical conditions, treatments, and drugs that can cause teeth and dental bone loss. Searching for a member holistic physician on the home page of the International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM) or the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) may lead you to someone who can provide you with the answers you are seeking for medically related jaw bone loss.
Dr. Gilbert’s offers a free, no obligation nutritional consultation. Learn how organic, all natural and whole food supplements can help with healing of the different types of dental bone loss. To arrange for your free nutritional consultation, go to the Free Nutritional Consultation page or call Dr. Gilbert at 732-329-8713 Monday through Saturday between 10 am and 6 pm Eastern Time.
So what can you do about all these conditions that lead to teeth or dental bone loss?
First, it is important to seek the care of a biological dentist. Appropriate dental treatment by a biologically trained dentist, and improved mouth hygiene, as taught by a holistically motivated dental hygienist can also do wonders to better the health of your mouth. To find a biologically trained dentist or hygienist, go to the website of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), www.iaomt.org, or the Holistic Dental Association (HDA), www.holisticdental.org. These organizations focus on dental treatment from a holistic perspective, which is much more likely to be of benefit to you than the traditional dental approach which uses harmful dental materials, antibiotics, fluoride and root canal treatments.
Second, do everything possible to strengthen your immune system, because it is your first line of defense against dental infections and disease.
How do you strengthen your immune system?
You strengthen your immune system by obeying a fundamental principle of health. Everything you are exposed to is either a complement or an insult to your well-being. In order to become healthy and remain healthy you must minimize the insults and maximize the complements you allow in your body. Taking organic, whole food and all natural supplements is an easy way to start making this principle work for you.
Proper nutritional support can help keep your immune system very strong. The all natural, organic and whole food supplements described on the Supplements page on this website are a simple and extremely effective, way to strengthen your immune system.
Is there anything else you need to do besides taking supplements?
The answer is a resounding yes. You are in control of your health! You can create within yourself a slightly alkaline, health promoting environment and make your immune system very strong. It’s simple. All you have to do is:
- Follow a healthy life style by consuming the right kinds of foods and drinks, including fruits and vegetables and other foods that are organic, whole grain, unprocessed or raw, and contain no added sugars, chemicals or synthetic ingredients of any kind.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid as many environmental toxins as possible.
But isn’t that really hard for most people to do?
That depends on your priorities. Since most people will rarely meet all of these conditions, the solution for strengthening your immune system is to still consume the right kinds of foods and drinks when you can, to still exercise and avoid toxins as much as possible, and to compensate for whatever elements of a healthy lifestyle you are lacking, by adding organic, all natural and whole food supplements to your diet.