The bones and tissue play a vital role in our oral health and the alveolar bone is a part of our jaw that holds the teeth!

When it comes to our mouth anatomy, many people know out teeth and even the maxilla (upper jawbone) and mandible (lower jawbone), but the alveolar bone has people flipping through anatomy books searching for this structure!

At the Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery, we are committed to providing you innovative oral surgery with the best outcomes from the leading oral surgeons in the country. Join us today for an anatomy lesson (!) as we explore more about the alveolar bone and what an alveolectomy is. 

The alveolar process captures many components that include the cementum, the periodontal ligament, and the lamina dura that help to hold the tooth in place.  To better understand it, it’s the ridgy part of our jaw just below our gums.

The alveolar bone proper lines the tooth socket and provides support to the tooth.

Our Aleveoloar Bone

To better understand what an alveolectomy is, we need to start with the very basics of what the alveolar bone is. In our mouths, we have a few key structures — we know our teeth and upper and lower jawbones, and then there is the ever-so-important alveolar bone. 

But, it doesn’t just stop with the alveolar bone! Within the alveolar bone structure is what is known as the alveolar process. This bony structure helps in developing the tooth buds, and in time, is where the root of the tooth forms and erupts. 

It is vital for the health and maintenance of mature teeth (dentition) so if there is tooth loss, the structure is broken down and reabsorbed. We often see the effects of jaw degradation in the media as “sour mouth” or the archetype of the senior citizen with no teeth and gummy mouth — this is a serious oral health issue that impacts the quality of life for many individuals.

Alveolar Process

The alveolar process encompasses a couple of different structures including the cementum, fibers of the periodontal ligaments, and lamina dura which provides not only support to the tooth but structure to the jaw bone. 

Alveolar Bone (Proper)

Beneath the soft tissue including the gingiva and deep within the cortical and trabecular bone is the alveolar bone proper. It provides support to the tooth.

Health Complications Of The Alveolar Bone

Periodontal disease is one of the major players in the degradation of the alveolar bone and can produce significant changes in the alveolar bone proper. Where periodontal disease begins as an inflammation of the gums (gingival tissues), if left untreated, it can disrupt not only the alveolar process but have a wider and damaging effect on our bodies systemically. 

The alveolar bone functions to support the tooth and when periodontal disease impacts it, it leaves the alveolar bone vulnerable — unable to carry out its function and inability to repair itself. Advanced stages of periodontal disease results in alveolar bone loss — single and multiple tooth loss. 

Periodontal disease is the catalyst for many other oral health complications in the alveolar bone such as abscesses and pulpitis. 

A periapical abscess can form in and around the alveolar bone, and in people with significant periodontal disease, they can have mobile teeth. What do we mean by mobile teeth? Teeth that float from the impact of periodontal disease. Even though the teeth may be floating, they still are needed and still provide support for the teeth. 

Pulpitis is inflammation in the pulp of the tooth which is the area in the center of the tooth that contains blood and nerve vessels and connective tissue. This soft area can become irritated and inflamed in alveolar bone loss.   

Pulpitis can manifest from trauma to the tooth, but it often results from cavities into the pulp chamber. 

Now that we know what the alveolar bone and alveolar process are and why they’re so vital to our dental health, let’s explore what an alveolectomy is. 

An alveolectomy is a surgical procedure that removes part of the alveolar bone and alveolar process to better ready it for dental appliances and prosthetics such as dentures and dental implants. 

There is much more to explore on the topic of an alveolectomy that we’ll cover in-depth in part two of this post! 

We’ve explored the importance of the alveolar bone and process, and the role it plays in both health and disease. An alveolectomy is a necessary procedure when a patient’s natural tooth or teeth can’t be preserved. 

If you’re interested in your oral health options and what an alveolectomy may look like for you, connect with us today!