Osteonecrosis of the jaw, also called dead jaw syndrome, occurs when lesions in the gums fail to heal and expose the jawbone to bacteria and potential trauma. The lack of gum tissue over the jaw also robs its blood supply, which causes the bone to become weak and eventually stop regenerating. Cancer treatment and certain infections increase the risk of dead jaw syndrome, but the condition can appear at random.
The dental treatments for osteonecrosis of the jaw are limited but can help close the lesions and/or repair the dead bone. Discuss your treatment options with the dentist as soon as the first lesion opens to improve the chances that the bone can be saved.
Oral Health Treatments
If the jawbone is only weakening but not yet dead, your dentist might be able to prevent the condition from worsening using some heightened oral health treatments. Oral antibiotic pills and antiseptic mouthwashes might be prescribed to help thwart the infection that caused the lesion to open in the first place. Stopping the infection can allow the gum tissue to grow back over the bone. Painkillers might also be prescribed to make the healing process more comfortable and manageable.
Your dentist will stress proper oral healthcare in the rest of your mouth at the same time. Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush at least twice a day and floss between the teeth at least once a day. Keeping the rest of the mouth clear of bacterial buildups helps minimize a reinfection in the area of the lesion.
Jaw Surgery and Bone Graft
If the bone has already died, there's nothing the dentist can do to bring that section back to life. Jaw surgery to remove the dead bone is necessary to ensure the continued health of the surrounding bone.
If only a small section of bone has died, your dentist will carefully remove that section then stitch the gums closed over the hole. Your healthy bone on each side will eventually come together in the middle and fuse into one solid section.
Need a large section of bone removed? Your dentist will likely recommend a bone graft. The transplant bone will likely come from elsewhere in your mouth – such as the roof – and that bone will be placed into the vacated hole where the dead bone was located. This transplant bone and the neighboring healthy bone will then slowly fuse together during the healing process.
For more information on dental health and procedures, contact a company like Silverado Family Dental.Share