What is atrophy? Bone atrophy, also known as osteonecrosis of the jaw, occurs when the underlying jawbone begins to deteriorate. This can occur for a number of reasons. Some bone atrophy causes include but are not limited to bacteria due to periodontitis or teeth that have been removed but not replaced, usually in the case of more than one tooth. In the latter case, bone loss occurs when the pressure of chewing no longer stimulates and preserves the jawbone. Osteoporosis bone atrophy can also be an issue in older patients, where the disease causes system-wide bone loss that includes the jawbone.
Bone atrophy symptoms can include pain or discomfort in the area of the deterioration, as well as a “sinking” appearance when the bone loss is severe. However, not all patients will have symptoms and osteonecrosis may only be revealed through imaging and other diagnostic testing. A significant indicator of the potential presence of bone atrophy is advanced gum disease.