Condensing osteitis is a condition that results in increased bone density at the base of a tooth's root. It most often occurs as a response to chronic inflammation in the dental pulp, the interior part of a tooth. While the issue may not cause any symptoms, it's important for your dentist to monitor the condition and advise you on your treatment options.
How It Develops
When you have an infected tooth or a dead nerve in a tooth from decay or trauma, the inflammation can sometimes cause bone growth in the jawbone. It's important to note that this response is not severe and doesn't destroy the bone. However, the affected area will develop more bone density and smaller bone marrow spaces. Often, patients won't experience any pain or symptoms.
Typically, condensing osteitis affects the lower back teeth. According to a study published in Brazilian Oral Research, the condition usually appears in patients between the ages of 30 and 70.
Because a patient with condensing osteitis may not experience or report any pain, dental professionals usually make the diagnosis by spotting the condition on a routine X-ray and evaluating the associated tooth for problems with the pulp. The bone growth will appear as an opaque area under the root of the tooth on a dental X-ray. In contrast, severe destruction of bone will appear transparent on an X-ray and will often be associated with pain and swelling.
This condition is rare and accounts for approximately 2 percent of conditions diagnosed during routine X-ray exams of the lower jaw, according to a study published in Dentomaxillofacial Radiology. By using diagnostic X-ray equipment, dentists can make this assessment without conducting a biopsy of the bony area. Especially considering that the condition may not cause any symptoms, it's important to see your dentist for regular exams and X-rays so they can diagnose any potential dental issues as soon as possible.
After evaluating your affected tooth, your dental professional will be able to advise you on the best treatment plan. They may simply choose to monitor the increased bone density if it does not appear to be urgent or concerning. However, you will likely need treatment for the dental infection that caused the inflammatory response in the jawbone.
Treating an infected tooth often requires a root canal procedure. Root canal treatment is very common, predictable and designed to be painless. You may be able to receive the treatment at your dentist's office, or your dentist may refer you to a specialized doctor called an endodontist. After the procedure, your dentist will work with you to determine how to best restore the tooth so it can be healthy for the rest of your life.
While you may not be able to control your body's response to an infection in a tooth, maintaining a good oral care routine will help you avoid dental infections and decay from the outset. Remember to brush your teeth twice daily, floss once a day and see your dentist for regular checkups, including X-rays, so they can identify and treat any potential issues affecting your dental health.