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Alveolar Process: Anatomy, Features, and Importance

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

It can be difficult to digest all the dental terms related to your oral health. What exactly is the alveolar process? How does it support your teeth, and what conditions can affect it? We’re here to help you understand the alveolar process along with its location, anatomy, and related health concerns.

Alveolar Process: What You Should Know

Your alveolar process (also known as the alveolar bone) is the structure that holds the roots of your teeth in place. You have an alveolar process made of thick bone for both your top and bottom rows of teeth.

Where exactly is it located? In general terms, right above your top row of teeth and directly below your bottom row. More exactly, the top process is located under your maxillary sinus, and your bottom process is situated just above your jawbone.

In addition to connecting your teeth to your jawbone, your alveolar process is vital to your teeth’s arrangement and the function of your periodontal ligament (PDL). The alveolar process is uniquely able to withstand the forces put on your mouth by chewing due to its unique composition.

Did you know: According to the Archives of Oral Biology, the turnover of the bone in your alveolar processes is the fastest of anywhere in your skeleton.

Alveolar Process and Tooth Health

Your alveolar process is a vital part of your anatomy for your mouth’s health and the support of your teeth. According to the Archives of Oral Biology, they have the unique ability to respond to the formation of teeth that erupt from your gums.

These important structures form around the teeth and the periodontal ligament (PDL), growing in stride with the number of teeth that have erupted. While many assume this comes to an end after your adult teeth are finished coming in, your teeth actually continue to migrate and erupt throughout your life.

Because your alveolar process is so adaptive, part of it reabsorbs following a tooth extraction, as it no longer has a structure to support it. For this reason, it’s vital to seek care from a dental professional following tooth loss or extraction to prevent lasting changes to your mouth. They may recommend implants to mitigate the changes caused by the absence of your tooth. Healthy bone density in your alveolar process is critical to support oral implants.

To ensure that your alveolar process stays in top condition, it’s important to avoid gum disease with a proper oral care routine. Advanced gum disease can cause lasting damage to your bone and disrupt its proper functioning.

You’ve made a great decision to read up on this interesting and unique support structure. Your alveolar process is a testament to the incredible adaptability and responsiveness of your body. You now have a great understanding of where it is, what it does, and what can go wrong.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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