Bone resorption occurs when the body breaks down and reabsorbs bone tissue. It happens commonly in the upper and lower jawbones as a result of tooth loss. Resorption can be prevented by replacing lost teeth with dental implants.
Why Does Bone Resorption Happen?
The jawbone serves two basic purposes—to support the teeth and to support facial muscles. Facial muscles allow us to talk, eat, bite, chew, and make facial expressions. The portions of the jawbone that support these muscles remain strong throughout our lifetime. However, the part of the jawbone that supports the teeth succumbs to resorption when teeth are no longer present. The body realizes that bone is no longer necessary and breaks it down into its molecular components, which return to the bloodstream.
Resorption is part of the body’s healing process. It automatically reconstructs the jawbone to accommodate the tooth loss by removing tissue it categorizes as unnecessary. In the long run, it can result in loss of a considerable amount of bone tissue if no measures are taken to preserve the bone. Some dentists will place special materials in the tooth socket after an extraction that will encourage bone tissue to remain stronger. However, the only way to permanently prevent bone resorption is with dental implants.
Preventing Bone Resorption
After a tooth has been lost or removed, materials can be placed in the socket to preserve it and prevent the bone from atrophy. This can include bone grafts or grafts made from synthetic materials. Grafts can help maintain the height of the bone and are also used to prepare for later tooth implants. While these methods are effective, they are not considered permanent solutions. The tooth is still missing, so the body still sees the bone tissue that once supported the tooth as unnecessary.
The most effective way to prevent long-term resorption is to place a dental implant as soon as possible. A dental implant has a root portion that is set into the socket. The artificial root tells the body the socket is still being used, and as you chew, the slight movement helps stimulate bone growth and maintenance. With dental implants, you will not only have a full set of natural-looking, functional teeth, but you’ll also maintain the health of your jawbone.
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