Understanding Bone Resorption
Bone resorption is the process by which people lose bone mass. It happens to astronauts, the elderly, and especially denture wearers. Bone resorption in your jaw can make it so you don’t have enough bone to support dentures, and may cause a fracture in your jaw. If you understand bone resorption, you can work to prevent it and protect your bones.
What Causes Bone Resorption?
We think our bones have stopped growing once we reach a certain age, but they haven’t. Although our bones aren’t getting bigger, they’re growing constantly to respond to our body’s needs. Your body removes bone tissue and it replaces it, keeping your bones healthy and strong. It also allows your bones to change in response to stress. Your body will add bone mass where it’s needed and take away bone mass from where it’s not.
Bone resorption happens when the process of removing bone goes faster than the process of replacing it. Sometimes your body is doing this because it needs calcium, so it’s raiding the stocks of calcium in your bones, such as during pregnancy. Other times you may have a disease or condition that speeds up the process of bone removal. It can also occur in places where a lack of stimulation makes your body think that bone mass isn’t necessary.
This process also changes with age; your body tends to create less bone as you get older.
Bone Resorption and Dentures
Your teeth play an important role in stimulating your jawbone so your body tries to maintain bone mass there. Once your teeth are gone, your body may begin removing the bones that used to support them.
As your bones are removed, the alveolar ridge (the bone that used to support your teeth and now supports your dentures) shrinks down and moves inward. This contributes to the aged, sunken appearance that denture wearers can sometimes have. It can also cause your dentures to fit improperly. Sometimes resorption happens so fast that you may need to have your dentures refitted in less than a year.
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