Osteomyelitis of the jaw is essentially an infection in the bone tissue of the mandible. Once the infection spreads to the bone, once a person develops osteomyelitis, this is extremely serious, and it can lead to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in reconstructive surgery.
Osteomyelitis can be caused by a variety of dental procedures that result in the introduction of bacteria into the jawbone. In this article, we’ll talk more about what dental procedures can cause osteomyelitis of the jaw.
Common Dental Procedures That Can Cause Osteomyelitis of The Jaw
The mouth is full of bacteria, and as you might imagine, infections of the mouth are not unusual, but infection of the bone is rare because bone is resistant to infection. However, once the infection starts, it’s extremely difficult to kill or manage.
Although bacteria can’t usually invade a person’s jaw bone, dental procedures may provide bacteria with an opportunity to infect a patient’s mandible. Some of the most common dental procedures that can cause osteomyelitis of the jaw include:
Tooth extractions can result in the introduction of bacteria into the jawbone, which can lead to infection and osteomyelitis.
Dental implants involve the surgical placement of metal posts into the jawbone to support artificial teeth. If bacteria are introduced into the jawbone during implant placement, it can lead to infection and osteomyelitis.
Periodontal surgery is performed to treat gum disease and involves removing diseased tissue and cleaning the teeth and jawbone. If bacteria are introduced into the jawbone during this procedure, it can lead to infection and osteomyelitis.
Other Dental Procedures
Any dental procedure that involves cutting or puncturing the skin, such as oral surgery, root canal therapy, or biopsy, can result in the introduction of bacteria into the jawbone and increase the risk of osteomyelitis.
It's important to note that osteomyelitis is a rare complication, and thus not all dental procedures will result in osteomyelitis of the jaw. The risk of infection and osteomyelitis can be minimized if the doctor or dentist takes the proper precautions. Good oral hygiene, prompt treatment for any dental infections, and proper aftercare or post-operative instructions following dental procedures can also play a critical role in reducing the occurrence of osteomyelitis.
What Do I Do if I Get Osteomyelitis as A Result of a Dental Procedure?
If you suspect that you have developed osteomyelitis as a result of a dental procedure, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Any delay could have serious consequences. Additionally, consider the following steps to help guide your management of the condition:
- Contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately: Inform your dentist or oral surgeon about your symptoms and let them know that you suspect you have developed osteomyelitis. They can advise you on the best course of action and refer you to a specialist if necessary.
- Visit a doctor: Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or a specialist, such as an infectious disease specialist or an orthopedic surgeon. They will perform a physical examination and may order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to confirm the diagnosis of osteomyelitis.
- Start antibiotics: If your doctor confirms the diagnosis of osteomyelitis, they will prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as directed, even if your symptoms improve before the medication is finished. In other words, don’t stop taking your antibiotics unless your doctor tells you to do so.
- Consider surgical intervention: In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove infected or dead tissue, promote healing, and prevent the spread of the infection. Your doctor will advise you on the best course of action based on the extent and severity of your infection.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene can help prevent the spread of infection and promote healing. This includes brushing and flossing regularly, rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
We can’t stress this enough: It is critical that you seek medical attention promptly if you suspect that you have developed osteomyelitis. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious complications, including the loss of a large portion of your jaw.