How do you regenerate bone loss in your mouth?

Bone loss in the mouth, also known as resorption, can occur for various reasons. The most common causes are periodontal disease, injury, or trauma from tooth extraction. Resorption causes the jawbone around teeth to deteriorate, resulting in loosening or even loss of teeth. Thankfully, several methods exist to regenerate and rebuild bone in the mouth. Treatment often involves grafting or regenerative techniques that stimulate bone regrowth while preventing further loss.

What causes bone loss in the mouth?

Periodontal disease

Periodontal (gum) disease is the leading cause of bone loss in adult mouths. Periodontitis causes inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting structures. Bacteria accumulate in pockets around the teeth, releasing toxins that break down gum tissue and jawbone. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more bone deteriorates. Eventually, teeth can become loose and fall out.

Tooth extraction

Extracting teeth leaves empty sockets in the jawbone that naturally fill with blood clots. The clot acts as a scaffold onto which new bone cells can adhere. However, the clot can become dislodged or dissolve before osseointegration occurs. This results in impaired healing and bone loss in the extraction site. The jawbone will also start to shrink and deteriorate when a missing tooth isn’t replaced.

Injury or trauma

Injuries from sports, car accidents, or falls can fracture facial bones and cause bone fragments to chip away. Trauma from tooth extraction, implant placement, or jaw surgery can also damage bone. Radiation treatment for cancers of the head and neck can destroy healthy bone cells.

Consequences of bone loss

Losing jawbone can have significant consequences:

– Teeth become loose or fall out as bone support deteriorates
– Changes in facial structure occur, flattening facial features
– Wrinkling or sagging skin around mouth due to less underlying bone
– Difficulty eating due to missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures
– Higher risk of bone fractures
– Limitations in available bone for dental implants

Rebuilding lost bone is crucial for restoring proper oral function and facial aesthetics. It also helps stabilize bone to place dental implants.

How bone regeneration works

Two key processes facilitate bone regeneration in the mouth:


Osteogenesis occurs when new bone cells (osteoblasts) form at the defect site. Stem cells in the area differentiate into osteoblasts that begin secreting collagen and other proteins. This forms an organic bone matrix upon which minerals like calcium and phosphorus crystallize into new bone.


Osteoconduction involves bone growth along a scaffold or framework. Grafting materials like collagen provide a three-dimensional structure for blood vessels and cells to infiltrate. This allows osteoblasts to adhere and generate new bone tissue throughout the scaffold.

Stimulating these mechanisms accelerates jawbone regrowth. Several grafting procedures utilize your body’s innate capacity to regenerate bone.

Treatment options for bone regeneration

Bone grafting

Bone grafting is a common procedure to replace bone lost from trauma, disease, or resorption. It involves transplanting bone from one part of the body to another. The bone is often taken from the chin, hip bones, or tibia. Synthetic bone may also be used. The graft fuses with the jawbone through osteoconduction, providing a scaffold for osteoblasts to stimulate new growth.

Guided bone regeneration

Guided bone regeneration (GBR) utilizes barrier membranes to protect and isolate the bone defect. This membrane acts as a partition to prevent soft tissue and epithelium cells from invading the area. It allows bones cells to regenerate new tissue unhindered. GBR is often performed along with bone grafts for severely resorbed ridges.

Ridge augmentation

Severely resorbed ridges or jaw sections require added augmentation before dental implant placement. Ridge augmentation techniques build up the diminished bone to restore proper dimensions. This provides adequate bone volume and support for the implants. Bone grafts, GBR, and other techniques may be used.

Sinus lifts

Sinus lifts add bone to the upper jaw in the maxillary sinus area. The sinus cavity located above the upper molars often expands as bone is lost, leaving insufficient bone for implants. A sinus lift grafts bone into the lowered sinus floor to increase bone height. It may be done alone or with other regenerative procedures.

Distraction osteogenesis

Distraction osteogenesis gradually expands the jawbone through an osteotomy or surgical cut. After a cut is made, a distraction device is fixed to each bone segment. Over time, these devices are activated to slowly pull the bone segments apart. This creates tension that stimulates new bone formation in the gap. Once the desired expansion is achieved, the distraction device is left in place to allow the new bone to mature and consolidate.

Growth factor therapy

Growth factors like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) contain concentrated amounts of tissue growth factors. Injecting PRP into bone defects jumpstarts healing by stimulating cell proliferation and new bone formation. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are also sometimes used to trigger bone growth cascades. However, BMPs carry a risk of side effects and are not extensively used in the mouth.

When is bone grafting necessary?

Common situations requiring bone grafts or regeneration include:

– Severely resorbed ridges
– Tooth extraction sites slow to heal
– Sinus lift procedures
– Ridge augmentation for implant placement
– Large periodontal bone defects
– Jaw fractures or trauma sites
– Cleft palate repair
– Alveolar ridge reconstruction
– Around dental implants to improve osseointegration

Consulting with your dentist or periodontist will help determine if bone grafting is necessary to rebuild lost jawbone. Procedures are tailored to the specific nature and extent of bone loss.

Risks and complications

Bone grafting and regeneration procedures carry certain risks, such as:

– Infection at the graft site
– Chronic pain or numbness
– Bleeding complications
– Damage to sinus membranes during sinus lift
– Insufficient new bone formation
– Graft rejection or failure
– Adverse reactions to artificial bone materials
– Nerve damage

Proper technique and precautions help minimize risks. Advise your dentist of any allergies, bleeding risks, or medications prior to treatment. Follow all postoperative care instructions carefully to support healing and reduce complications.

Recovery process and timeline

The recovery process for bone grafts and regeneration varies based on the treatment:

– Basic bone grafting – Healing typically takes 3-6 months. Temporary dentures or appliances are often needed during initial recovery. Dental implants can be placed after about 4-6 months.

– Sinus lift – Sinus lifts require several months for the grafted bone to fully integrate. Dental implants are usually placed 4-8 months later.

– Distraction osteogenesis – The distraction device remains in place for about 3-4 weeks as new bone forms. Orthopedic devices support the jawbones for several more weeks until the new bone consolidates. Total healing takes 3-5 months.

– Ridge augmentation – A healing period of 6 months or longer may be needed before placing implants into the augmented ridge.

Your surgeon will provide a detailed recovery timeline based on your specific procedure. Proper healing is essential for graft integration and stability.

Post-op care for optimal healing

Following your surgeon’s postoperative instructions is vital. Recommended care may include:

– Ice packs applied to reduce swelling
– A liquid or soft food diet
– Antibiotics and oral rinse to prevent infection
– Pain medication as needed
– Avoiding strenuous activity
– Periodic follow-up appointments for wound evaluation
– Use of any prescribed bite splints or orthodontic appliances

Adequate bone regeneration takes time. Have patience through the recovery process to achieve the best results. Contact your dentist with any concerns like excessive pain, bleeding, or worsening swelling.

Outlook for regenerating bone in the mouth

The prognosis for bone regeneration is often very good. With current grafting techniques and biomaterials, significant bone volume can be restored. Success rates depend on:

– The severity of initial bone loss
– Overall health and healing ability
– Adherence to proper surgical technique
– Following postoperative care instructions
– Avoiding smoking or osteoporosis medications

Even severely resorbed ridges and advanced periodontal defects can show good bone fill with properly planned treatment. Work closely with your surgical team for the optimal outcome.

While losing bone in the mouth can be devastating, many options exist to successfully regenerate what was lost. Talk to your dentist or periodontist to determine the best treatment solutions for your situation. Consistent follow-up care and maintenance will help support your new bone growth and oral health.


Bone loss in the mouth is a common issue with various causes, including periodontal disease, trauma, and tooth extraction. Subsequent bone deterioration can lead to serious problems like loose teeth, changes in facial structure, and difficulty eating. Thankfully, today’s advanced grafting techniques including bone grafts, sinus lifts, ridge augmentation, and growth factors can regenerate lost jawbone very effectively. Close collaboration with your oral surgeon and following all postoperative care guidelines is key to ensuring successful bone regeneration and recovery of function. With proper treatment, significant bone volume can be restored in even severely resorbed ridges and defects in the mouth.

Leave a Comment