When you think about a trip to the general dentist office, you might picture teeth cleanings, fillings, and crowns. But dentists are there to help optimize your oral health in every way. And that can include helping you correct any problems with your jaw that are causing bite issues, pain, or preventing you from getting a dental implant.
Here are a few of the potential dental treatments for common jaw problems you can get at a general dentist's office.
Overbite or Underbite
Bite issues can be caused by either misaligned teeth, an improper placement of the jawbone, or both. If the teeth are the only issue, then orthodontics can be used to treat an overbite or underbite. But jawbone problems will need to be corrected surgically.
Jaw surgery for an overbite involves the dentist removing segments of bone from the upper jaw and then shifting the jaw back so that it better aligns with the bottom teeth. The surgery for an underbite can involve cutting into the upper jawbone, pushing the jaw forward, and then using a medical device to hold the upper jaw in its new position.
If your teeth are still misaligned, your dentist might advise orthodontic treatment once you have fully healed from jaw surgery.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
Osteonecrosis is a condition where the jawbone becomes exposed and begins to die. This can happen due to infection, certain medical treatments, or when a gap from a missing tooth is left open for an extended period of time. Without the stimulating tooth root and underlying blood cells, the jawbone doesn't get the fuel it needs to survive.
Mild to moderate osteonecrosis can usually be treated with antibiotics and increased oral hygiene, as advised by the dentist. It's important to treat the jawbone soon after exposure or it can weaken considerably or erode.
Weak or Missing Bone
If you're interested in a dental implant to replace a missing tooth, you need to have a strong jawbone in the area. The metal root of the implant screws directly into the bone and over time the root and bone fuse together to provide stability. Weak or missing bone can make the implant loose or can cause it to fall out of your mouth.
A bone graft can strengthen or replace the problematic area of bone. Your dentist will remove a section of bone from elsewhere in your mouth and splice it into the weak area. You will undergo a healing process for the old and new bone to have time to fuse together. Then the dentist can begin the dental implant process.
Bone grafts do have a couple of downsides. This procedure and its healing time will make the already lengthy implant process even longer. And the treatment schedule will become even longer if you don't have viable bone elsewhere in your mouth for the graft. In that case, your dentist will have to take the bone from elsewhere in your body such as your hip.