Although many are aware of the dangers gum disease poses to dental health, few may realize that the effects of gum disease go beyond the teeth and gums, and may directly impact jawbone health. Gum disease is an infection, and like any infection, it can spread if left untreated. Fortunately, restorative dentistry treatments can help reverse the damage caused by gum disease and jawbone loss for improved oral health and a restored smile. To learn more about your treatment options for gum disease and jawbone loss, schedule a consultation with Lake Jackson, TX dentists Brian K. Bell and Justin J. Crocker.
How Does Gum Disease Cause Jawbone Loss?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums generally caused by the bacteria found in plaque and tartar. If left untreated, gum disease will progress from gingivitis to the more severe form, periodontitis. When periodontitis develops, it can spread beyond the gum tissue and infect the jawbone. As periodontitis infects the jawbone and other tissues supporting the teeth, the tissues will begin to deteriorate. As jawbone is lost, the teeth may become loose and eventually fall out.
Treatments for Gum Disease and Jawbone Loss
Gum disease can have a devastating impact on oral health, causing severe dental pain, tooth loss, and jawbone loss. A loss of jawbone tissue is of particular concern because it can lead to the loss of other teeth, making eating difficult and impacting the appearance of the jaw line. If jawbone loss and gum disease have caused tooth loss, dental implant treatment may be performed once the jawbone is restored to permanently replace one or more missing teeth.
Treating gum disease and jawbone loss is essential for protecting oral health and restoring confidence. Treatments for gum disease depend on the severity of the infection and often require surgical intervention when infection has spread to the jawbone. In order to restore oral health, gum disease and jawbone loss may be addressed with:
- The flap procedure: During the flap procedure, a small flap is cut in the gums and the tissue is lifted back, exposing the tooth down to the roots. Tartar is removed from the tooth and, if irregular surfaces are present on the jawbone from minor damage, the bone is smoothed to reduce the risk of bacteria settling within irregular grooves on the bone. Once the tooth and jawbone are treated, the flap is closed.
- Soft tissue graft: Gum disease can cause the gums to recede and thin. Soft tissue from the roof of the mouth may be harvested and grafted onto the gums to replace lost gum tissue and restore oral health.
- Bone grafts: When jawbone is lost, a bone graft may be necessary. Bone grafts may be performed using bone from a patient's own body, synthetic bone, or donor bone tissue. During a bone graft, an incision is made in the gums to expose the jaw. The jawbone will be cleaned, along with the surrounding teeth, and the graft will be attached to the bone tissue. Over time, the jawbone and graft will fuse, effectively restoring the structure of the jawbone.
Learn More about Your Treatment Options
To learn more about your treatment options for gum disease and jawbone loss, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Bell and Crocker.