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causes of bone loss in the mouth

Causes of Bone Loss

Periodontal Disease

Many factors can contribute to bone loss in the mouth. One cause of bone loss is due to periodontal disease or periodontitis. Periodontal disease involves the inflammation and breakdown of gum tissue and supporting bone tissue around teeth. Periodontal disease can be localized to one area of the mouth or generalized, where it affects the entire mouth.

xray showing bone loss

Missing Teeth

Many people are not aware that having a missing tooth or having missing teeth, can also lead to bone loss. When teeth are present in the mouth, the supporting bone is stimulated by the pressure that is exerted onto it when chewing. When one tooth or more teeth are missing, chewing cannot take place in that empty area because there is no opposing tooth to chew the food against. This means that the actions of chewing will no longer stimulate the bone that is left behind. As a result, the bone level will begin to shrink or resorb. It is possible to lose up to 25% of the bone in one year after the tooth has gone missing.

complete upper and lower dentures

A partial denture or complete denture will only be able to provide up to 10% of the force that is typically exerted by natural teeth. This is not enough to stimulate the bone, and as a result, the bone will continue to shrink. This results in a poor denture fit over time, and the denture will need to be relined to adjust for the shrinking bone levels.

Dental implants or implant-supported dentures help to avoid these issues because the dental implants are fused to the bone, where it can provide stimulation.

Smoking Cigarettes

used cigarettes

Smoking is a major risk factor for the development of periodontal disease. Those who smoke are likely to have more hardened calculus (tartar) buildup than non-smokers. Smokers tend to have more severe bone loss than non-smokers. Studies have shown that severe bone loss was five times more with current heavy smokers when compared to people who have never smoked.

Less Common Causes of Bone Loss


  • Misaligned teeth can affect normal chewing, resulting in reduced stimulus to the bone, which leads to bone loss.
  • Infections in the mouth may also spread and damage bone.
  • Dentures will also cause bone loss due to the lack of pressure exerted when chewing.


Having regular dental check-ups can help your dentist or dental hygienist to monitor for signs on bone loss, whether existing or progressing. Bone loss is not always apparent at first, and by the time it is noticeable, much more invasive treatment is necessary to help treat the problem. Schedule your dental check-up by contacting us now.


About Dr. Joseph Salvaggio

Dr. Joseph Salvaggio, DDS

Located in Brampton, Ontario Dr. Joseph Salvaggio has been practicing general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry for over 20 years. He enjoys interacting with his patients and helping to restore their oral health for better overall health as well. Meeting new patients, interacting and educating them is one of Dr. Salvaggio’s biggest joys. We encourage you to read our reviews or call us with any dental questions you have. We look forward to speaking with you and meeting you soon.

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