Causes of Jawbone Loss

When one or more teeth are missing, it can lead to jawbone loss at the site of the gap. This loss of jawbone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health.  Existing teeth begin to drift or super erupt into the vacant space resulting in other dental concerns including additional tooth loss, pain, altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and eat normally.

In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is stimulated and maintained by natural teeth or by implants. Natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone, and stimulate the surrounding bone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the bone, or the portion of the jawbone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation, and begins to atrophy.

Potential Consequences of Tooth and Jawbone Loss

  • Problems with remaining teeth, including, misalignment, drifting, loosening and loss
  • Periodontal concerns
  • Collapsed facial profile
  • Limited occlusal support resulting to fractures of existing teeth
  • Limited lip or cheek support
  • Skin wrinkling around the mouth
  • Fungal infections due to improper occlusal support
  • Distortion of other facial features
  • Jaw (temporomandibular joint TMJ) pain, facial pain, and headaches
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating
  • Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
  • Pneumatiziation or Sinus expansion


Reasons for Jawbone Loss and Deterioration

The following are the most common causes of deterioration and bone loss requiring bone grafting procedures:

Tooth Extractions:

When teeth are removed and not replaced, jawbone deterioration occurs naturally over time. The rate the bone deteriorates, as well as the amount of bone loss that occurs, varies greatly among individuals. However, most loss occurs within the first twelve to eighteen months following the extraction, and continues throughout life.

Periodontal Disease:

Dental plaque and Periodontal disease are an ongoing infection of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease can affects the bone, periodontal ligament and gingiva.


Unanchored dentures are placed on top of the gums and bone resulting in pressure necrosis (bone loss/ resorption) and do not provide any direct internal stimulation to the underlying  bone. Over time, the lack of stimulation within the bone causes the bone to atrophy. Because  denture rely on the bone to hold them in place, people often experience loosening of their dentures and problems eating and speaking. Eventually, bone loss may become so severe that dentures cannot be held in place even with strong adhesives, and a new set may be required.

With bridgework, the teeth on either side of the appliance provide sufficient stimulation to the bone, but the portion of the bridge that spans the gap where the teeth are missing receives no direct stimulation. Bone loss can occur in this area.

By completing a bone graft procedure, our dental team is now able to restore bone to its natural form and function , thereby halting the effects of poor denture care followed by implant placement.


When teeth are lost due to trauma and the bone is no longer stimulated, the bone loss begins to occur. If left alone,  bone grafting would be necessary to reverse the effects of bone loss in order to restore form and  function by promoting new bone growth in traumatized areas.


Misalignment issues can create a situation in the mouth where some teeth no longer have proper occlusion or opposing teeth. The unopposed tooth can super erupt, causing deterioration of the underlying bone. This can further lead to TMD ( Temporomandibular Dysfunction) also known as TMJ

Sinus Deficiencies:

When molars are removed from the upper jaw near the maxillary sinus can cause resorption of the bone that formerly helped the teeth in place. As a result, the sinuses become enlarged, a condition called hyper-pneumatized sinuses.

This condition usually develops over several years, and may result in insufficient bone from the placement of dental implants. Our team can perform a procedure called a “sinus lift” that can treat enlarged sinuses. However, it is best to address tooth loss as soon as possible.