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    Osteonecrosis of the jaw occurs when part of your jawbone is exposed and not covered by your gums. This already sounds uncomfortable, but it gets worse – that exposed part of the jawbone can weaken and die. It’s rare, but some medications, like ones used to treat osteoporosis or cancer, can up your risk of getting ONJ.

    How Rare Is Jaw Osteonecrosis

    Osteonecrosis of the jaw isn’t something you hear about every day. It’s rare, especially among those who take medication for cancer-related bone issues – only about 2 out of 100 of them get it. But even if you don’t have cancer or take that medicine, ONJ can still happen, though it’s even more uncommon.

    Causes of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)

    Sometimes, after dental procedures like a tooth removal or getting a dental implant, there’s a chance your jawbone might be exposed and your gum doesn’t heal properly. That exposed part of the bone doesn’t get the blood it needs so that the bone cells can die off.

    This condition is called osteonecrosis of the jaw. It can also happen out of the blue without any clear reason, but that’s pretty rare.

    Symptoms of ONJ

    If you have had a dental procedure and got ONJ, you might feel pain around where the procedure was done. But sometimes, there aren’t any symptoms. If you do have ONJ, you might notice:

    • Pain in your jaw.
    • Teeth feeling loose.
    • Sores in your mouth.
    • Gums or mouth having a pus-like discharge.
    • Swollen gums.

    Osteonecrosis of the Jaw Treatment

    Oral surgeons and prosthodontists treat ONJ. They are experts in complicated dental issues involving teeth and jaws. The treatment you get depends on how far the disease has progressed.

    • Stage 0 Treatment
      At Stage 0 of jaw osteonecrosis, your healthcare provider might simply monitor your condition for any changes. To relieve symptoms, they may suggest:
    • Antibiotics
    • Antiseptic mouthwash
    • Pain relievers
    • Stage 1 Treatment
      For Stage 1 ONJ, your healthcare provider will remove the dead bone cells by scraping or scrubbing them (debridement). This helps prevent further bone loss and promotes healing of your gums over the bone. After debridement, you may be prescribed antibiotics, pain medication, and a special mouth rinse.
    • Stage 2 and Stage 3 Treatment
      At Stages 2 and 3 of ONJ, your healthcare provider will perform surgery to remove the section of the dead jawbone and any teeth touching that area. They will also retrieve healthy tissue to ensure no diseased bone cells remain. If you have Stage 3 ONJ, you might also require sinus surgery to remove dead bone extending into your nasal passages. After surgery, you may use a prescription mouth rinse and take antibiotics and pain medication.

    Finalizing Thoughts

    Facing the possibility of Osteonecrosis of the jaw can be daunting, especially if you’re undergoing cancer treatments. Finding a trustworthy oral surgeon is crucial, while early action is the key.

    Consider visiting our Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr. Azhar, at Pasadena Oral Surgery. She specializes in surgical tooth extractions, advanced bone grafting techniques, implant surgery, and pathology. Call us at (281) 299-0053 to book an appointment.

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