Dentist Questions Dental Health

What does bone loss in the teeth mean?

In the recent dentist appointment that I went for, the doctor has mentioned start of bone loss. I am 64 years old currently and heavily diabetic. What does this bone loss mean? Can it be corrected at this age or are there any methods to prevent further deterioration.

20 Answers

Bone loss is as if you stuck a beach umbrellas sand about 6 inches or about 2 feet. One is shallow and it will not stand the other will. With advanced bone loss, the bone goes away leaving no support for a tooth. This, the teeth get mobile and eventually lost. Initially one must stop the progress with carefull home care.
Bone supports the root of your teeth. When you have active gum disease, you will continue losing bone, and over time, it can result in the loss of teeth, which may not have any decay. Isolated areas around the teeth may be treated to add/grow new bone, but may not be as successful in certain areas. The first step is to stop the active gum disease. There are numerous types of gum disease, but adult periodontitis is the most common form.
Your priority for health is getting diabetes under control and having your blood sugar monitored. That in and of itself will increase your healing capacity overall, but loss of bone around the teeth will not return normal without surgical procedures, all you can do is prevent further loss. Follow regular flossing and power washing your gums and teeth with waterpik and regular oral hygiene.
Bone loss around the teeth that hold the teeth in place. This is Periodontal disease and diabetics ESPECIALLY need to get it treated, follow directions and go 2-4 times per year for cleanings. It will help control the severity of your diabetes as well. You must floss as well as brush. You may have bone loss but your periodontal disease is under control. If so, that is better but keep up with regular care.
Bone loss is a result of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a special type of bacteria in our mouth that causes damage to the gum, bone and the peridontal structures of the tooth. There are a plethora of reason that cause periodontal disease including, age, genetics, home care, medication, smoking, medical ailments, etc. Diabetes has been shown to have a direct correlation to the increase of bacteria in the mouth. Unfortunately, once the bone is lost it can be regenerated. In order to prevent further bone loss, it is recommend to get a procedure called a scaling and root planing. There is no way to fully eradicate the mouth of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, however, the goal is to get the bacteria to a level that your body can fight. Therefore, it is essential to get a cleaning (periodontal maintenance) every 3 months.
Bone loss is something that can happen with age and especially with people who are diabetic because of inflammation. The best thing to do is continue going to your 6 month checkups so you keep your teeth and gums healthy to slow down the bone loss process.

Lara Bacchelli
Bone loss is typically the result of pathogenic bacteria that have invaded the bone. As a diabetic, your body is at higher risk for periodontal disease because your immune system is compromised. In order to reduce the bacterial invasion and further bone loss, it is important to see your dentist more frequently, usually 3-4 times per year as opposed to twice. This allows us to continually disrupt the bacteria and minimize the negative effects. You may want to ask your dentist if he/she does any oral DNA testing as this gives specific information on the bacteria that are at high levels so that treatment can be targeted. Your nutrition is also critical. Keeping systemic inflammation down aids in better oral health.

I hope this helps. If you have further questions, I am happy to respond.

In health,
Dr. Jennifer Rankin
Bone loss, also known as periodontal disease is a treatable condition and is very common with diabetics. The proper treatment would be to have a periodontal deep cleaning, often called "Scaling and Root Planing". During this procedure. the dentist or hygienist will give you a local anesthetic and clean below your gums removing calculus and infection. Once your deep cleanings have been completed, you will need to return to your dental office more frequently (typically every 3-4 months) for teeth cleanings to maintain your disease. Unfortunately, bone loss cannot be reversed. However, proper treatment at your dental office and good home care can stop the progression of the disease. Your insurance may even offer better coverage on these procedures because of the known link between periodontal disease and diabetes.
It's a downward spiral. Meticulous oral hygiene is imperative. Poor oral health increases the risk of uncontrolled diabetes because of the infection the body is fighting... Healthy gums allow the body to concentrate on the diabetes... it's a vicious cycle.
The bone is the foundation that holds your teeth in. The bone is like the foundation of a house. If you lose enough bone, the teeth will become loose, just like a house with a poor foundation becomes unstable. The bone is lost due to inflammation due to the build up of plaque and tarter. The cleaner you keep everything, the harder it is to lose bone. If your diabetes is not controlled well, it is easier for you to lose bone. If you are having problems with your home care, you can be seen more often to have your teeth cleaned. If there is appropriate documentation, you should have periodontal benefits with your insurance that may help pay for more cleaning.
Every tooth in your mouth is supported by bone, easily seen on an X-ray and measured by a periodontal probe during your dental exam. As plaque and tartar form along the gum line and are not removed on a regular basis through proper brushing and daily flossing, the bacteria can eat away at the bone supporting your teeth, thus showing bone loss during a dental exam. Once this diagnosis is made, it is important to take steps to eliminate or slow down any more loss. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily, use a mouthwash proven to control bacteria daily like Listerine, and follow the recommended frequency of professional cleanings by your dentist. 
In your case, your bone loss might be related with your immune system, and the medications that you use. Bone loss is a very serious problem; if you do not stop this, you might lose your teeth.
Bone loss is a sign of periodontal disease, which is very prevalent in diabetics. It can not be reversed, but can be arrested. If unchecked, it can lead to tooth loss, so follow your dentist's instructions.

Michael M. Blicher, DDS

This bone loss means that you probably have a gum infection. Diabetes is closely tied into gum disease. If your blood sugar is not controlled, you can develop gum disease and it's more difficult to control. If you have poorly controlled gum disease, it's more difficult to control your blood sugar. To gain control of this situation, I'd suggest getting your teeth professionally cleaned every 3-4 months, keep them immaculately clean at home (an electric or battery-operated toothbrush works beautifully for this) including nightly flossing, and try to keep your blood sugar under control.
Bone loss is an unfortunate symptom of periodontal disease and once gone, cannot be regained. But having said that, as long as you are getting your teeth regularly treated with a good periodontal program, than you should be able to maintain your current bone levels. Make sure your blood glucose is under control as well because diabetes can leave teeth more susceptible to periodontal disease.
Generally, when a dentist tells you you have bone loss, he is referring to the bone that holds your teeth in place. We call this periodontitis and the bone loss is irreversible. It is important to stop it before it gets any worse as it could eventually lead to tooth loss. The best way to stop further deterioration would be flossing daily and seeing your dentist on a regular basis.
To answer specifically, since there is no bone in the teeth, you cannot have bone loss in the teeth. You can, however, have bone loss around the teeth. This is called periodontitis and is made worse if you are diabetic. With periodontitis, if you lose enough bone, you lose your teeth. In most cases you can control the periodontitis with excellent daily brushing and flossing. You may be a candidate for further gum treatments by a dentist or periodontist. Except for certain instances where bone grafting is appropriate, once the bone is lost, it cannot be regained.
Bone loss is the result in most adults from periodontal disease which affects the majority of adults. It is caused by bacteria that start around the gums as gingivitis that eventually gets under the gums resulting in loss of the periodontal attachment to the tooth (periodontal ligament & bone) leading to bone loss/periodontitis. Like hypertension, it has no clinical signs for most people. Add diabetes which along with smoking is now the perfect storm for bone loss. Other risk factors: poor compliance to prevention (years between visits), grinding/clenching of the teeth, history of tooth loss in the family are naming a few. The bacteria found in these pockets are are clearly associated with systemic diseases such as heart disease, respiratory diseases, and many others. The control of your diabetes is paramount to get your periodontal disease under control & this has been documented in many studies as well. As an educator at multiple dental universities as well as a full-time clinical periodontist, I see the ravages of periodontal disease daily and most frequently the patient has not a clue of the damages that we see. I would strongly suggest seeing a periodontist who is board-certified (Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology) and have them get a complete mouth x-ray exam and a full mouth periodontal exam which should be about an hour to 1.5 hours long to get baseline data to come up with a treatment plan. We are treating many of our periodontal diseased cases with very modern technology including lasers to get control of the disease in very short order. Robert A. Levine DDS, FCPP, FISPPS Philadelphia, PA
Bone loss is the term we as dentists use to describe the body's response to periodontal issues (gum disease). Your teeth are held in place by bone, and if you lose too much from around them, the teeth will become loose and there is a great risk of having them fall out or needing to have them extracted. Being diabetic, and if not well controlled, your body does not heal well and inflammation can reap havoc on your mouth. It's a two way street, uncontrolled diabetes more inflammation, more inflammation more difficult to control the diabetes. Correction can be done to a certain extent, it all depends how serious the problem is at this time. It is very difficult to regrow bone, but all things considered, the bone loss can be managed or controlled. Talk to your dentist about periodontitis and what issues you may have.
I think it is a good idea for everyone over 40 years of age to have a periodontist evaluate their dentition for bone loss as it is a pervasive problem not only due to age, but also the stress we put on our teeth over a lifetime, as well as failed attempts at adequate oral hygiene including correct use of dental floss daily over the years. This investment in your teeth will pay many dividends to all your life. Statistics show that many patients at your age have lost multiple teeth so if you've managed to keep most of your teeth, you're on the right track.