implants and bridges dental servicesBone erosion is one of the side effects of an aging smile. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, if you’re between the ages of 50 and 64, chances are good that you’ve already lost as many as six teeth and that’s not including your wisdom teeth! Lost teeth can cause a multitude of oral health problems, including shifting of the remaining teeth and an increased risk for gum disease. These issues are related to bone loss in the jaw. Commonwealth Prosthodontics specializes in treating the issues that occur from missing teeth, including bone erosion and loss.

Alveolar Bone Loss (Erosion)

The portion of your jaw which supports your teeth, keeping them strong and anchored, is known medically as the alveolar process. It’s made up of an outer wall called the cortical plate, and an inner part called the alveolar bone, and is covered by the gum itself. Researchers have consistently found a link between the loss (or erosion) of alveolar bone and loosening teeth. On the flip side of the same “coin” is the fact that lost teeth can cause the bone to shrink and deteriorate, which is one of the most important reasons to replace a tooth that’s been lost due to periodontal disease, injury or bone loss resulting from osteoporosis.

What to Do When Bone Loss is an Issue

Maybe you waited too long to replace a couple of missing teeth and the result is extensive bone loss. Or maybe your bone loss is simply due to age-related bone deterioration. You’d like to replace those missing teeth with dental implants, but what about that bone loss? Is it too late to do anything about it?  Maybe not. The first step to restoring your smile will be to see a prosthodontist for a consultation and treatment. Although it is possible to regrow lost bone naturally, this tends to be difficult when it comes to dental bone. The prosthodontist may replace lost bone through a bone graft where bone is taken from one part of the body and implanted into the site where bone has been lost. Then, cells from the transplanted bone (which the body recognizes as its own) will begin to multiply and replace the eroded bone, providing the support needed for a dental implant.

What is a Prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist is a dentist who’s had more training than the average dentist. To become a prosthodontist — a dentist who specializes in dental problems that involve missing bone and teeth — she must complete a three-year graduate course after receiving her Bachelor Degree in general dentistry. When she graduates, she’ll be highly trained in all aspects of the specialty including bone replacement and all tooth replacement options (implants, bridges and dentures) as well as cosmetic procedures (caps, tooth whitening, etc.) and TMJ disorders, which can cause pain and severe headaches. In short, a prosthodontist is the go-to specialist when something — or everything — in your mouth needs extensive work or replacement!

When you break down the name, “prostho” (meaning replacement) and “dontist” (one who deals with teeth), the function of the prosthodontist becomes very clear indeed. In fact, they’re at the very top of the dental profession and literally lead teams of dentists and other dental specialists when it comes to designing a dental plan for those with complex oral health issues such as bone or gum loss. Prosthodontists are actually known as the “architects” of the dental industry.

How Commonwealth Prosthodontics Can Help

The providers at Commonwealth Prosthodontics are experienced, highly trained professionals who are dedicated to helping people regain their smiles.  Our team creates individualized treatment plans for each patient. Diagnosing and treating bone loss is part of the process at Commonwealth Prosthodontics.  To make an appointment with one of our providers, contact us at (804) 346-3366.