Jawbone deterioration or atrophy

The human body is ordered in a fashion that an organ or part of it which loses its vital function begins to deteriorate; the same goes without saying for the jawbone which has a missing tooth, but especially several missing teeth.

In the long-term, the jawbone begins to deteriorate in areas where there used to be a tooth with a functioning root as there is no masticatory strain; since there is no tooth or a root, there is also no masticatory pressure wherefore the body decides that this part of the jawbone is of no use and the tissue begins to deteriorate.

Deterioration of the bone tissue and tooth loss are irreversible organic processes; the dentist can only stop them and use dental implants as replacements as well as augment the missing bone tissue
Deterioration of the bone tissue and tooth loss are irreversible organic processes; the dentist can only stop them and use dental implants as replacements as well as augment the missing bone tissue

The deterioration, also called atrophy or „erosion“  of  an edentulous jawbone is a very serious health issue, starting with the change of facial features (the sinking of cheeks, early formation of wrinkles, sinking of lips etc.) and extending to major impact upon one‘s health and social discomfort (indigestion, inarticulate pronunciation, decreased quality of life).

Main causes of jawbone deterioration

  • The bone tissue starts deteriorating in areas of missing teeth as there is no necessary masticatory pressure
  • Jawbone deterioration also settles in under dental bridges and removable dentures as there is no masticatory pressure as well
  • Atrophy of the bone tissue is also caused by oncological diseases of the facial area
  • Atrophy of the bone tissue might be the result of dental and jaw trauma
  • The jawbone might suppurate and decompose due to a secondary infection that has spread via root canals because of teeth affected by caries
  • The jawbone might be damaged by paradontitis

It‘s worth mentioning that teeth surrounding the area of the lost tooth begin to collapse in a fashion similar to dominos; since they have no outer support and experience an increased masticatory load due to the missing tooth, it‘s only a matter of time when you start losing more teeth. The process of jawbone deterioration and further tooth loss is irreversible – the dentist is only able to stop it.

The patient is usually not aware that the jawbone begins deteriorating in areas of missing teeth, however, it is important to remember that the lost tooth is an important risk factor in jawbone atrophy. Therefore it‘s very important to see your dentist at least once in a while, just to check how you‘re doing even with a single tooth missing. Your dental condition can be clearly examined with the help of a panoramic X-ray picture.

General dental condition; the bone tissue is still undeteriorated in the area of the removed tooth and there is no apparent collapse of surrounding teeth
Surrounding teeth are collapsing around the removed teeth and jawbone atrophy is apparent in areas of removed teeth

If there is an apparent need to remove one or several teeth from a deteriorating jawbone prior to implantation, we strongly advise you to consult with your implantologist. If there is the slightest opportunity to insert a dental implant in place of a freshly removed tooth, i.e. perform immediate implantation, or fill it with a bone substitute, we would strongly recommend to do so as this would prevent against reduction in bone volume and extra complicated and expensive surgical procedures that would extend and make the implantation process much more costly.

Deteriorating jawbones can be successfully recovered using original, donor or artificial bone tissue (grafts). However, we do not advocate patients to rely on high standards of dentistry technology only to find out that they‘ve started experiencing deterioration of jawbone size and volume after tooth loss.