Dental cavitation is a condition that affects the jaw. Most people experience this condition but remain unaware of it, and a lot of people mistake it for a dental cavity. There are several misconceptions about dental cavitation, and this is usually due to a wrong diagnosis by a dentist.
Dental cavitation is used to describe jawbone damage, usually resulting from necrosis, inflammation, or infection. Although cavitation is not a medical term, dentists and medical experts use. If dental cavitation is left untreated, it could spread to other body parts and cause irreparable damage.
Unlike dental cavitation, a dental cavity is the breakdown of an area of the tooth structure usually resulting from acid production from a specific bacterial infection. Dentists also refer to a dental cavity as dental caries and tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when the bacterial infection eats into the root structure, dentin or enamel.
Dental cavitation is a serious dental issue, and it usually requires expensive surgery to correct the problem. However, when some dentists notice a demineralised and non-pathologic area in a patient’s jawbone, they diagnose it to be dental cavitation. This often leads to unnecessary and expensive surgery and treatment.
The fact that cavitation is not a recognised dental condition, makes its treatment and diagnosis confusing. Some dental experts think that overdiagnosis of the condition may be a fraud because it often leads to unnecessary and expensive treatment. However, misdiagnosis may simply be an error on the part of the dentist.
Diagnosis of dental cavitation is usually difficult. Detecting the lesions associated with dental cavitation using a panoramic or single periapical dental x-ray is also difficult. A panoramic x-ray usually shows a 2D periapical view of the lower and upper teeth, jaw and sinus region. Most dental x-rays show a 2D view of the teeth and jaw, but these structures are three dimensional. The 2D view which most of the x-rays give, only flattens the structures shown.
To correctly identify areas affected by cavitational osteonecrosis, the dentist needs a three-dimensional view of the jaw and teeth structure. This is usually possible using a Cone Beam CT Scan (CBCT) of the affected area.
Before the scan, the dentist has to review the patient’s medical and dental record to know the possible causes of the lesion, then carry out a proper diagnosis.
Dental cavitation usually occurs due to different injuries to the bone. Some possible causes of the condition include:
Certain types of bone trauma which obstruct blood flow to the bone cells, andthis usually causes the death of bone cells and creates a hollow space in the bone.
Effect of an improperly performed tooth extraction procedure which leaves debris in the socket of the bone and infection, resulting in a dry socket and subsequently, dental cavitation.
Overheatingthe bone which often results from dental procedures that require cutting drills. This may lead to the death of bone cells and cavitational osteonecrosis.
Recurring infection in the root of a tooth with a filed root canal
When the hollow space in the affected bone accumulates toxic substances and bacteria, it activates the immune system. The body releases and transports different chemicals through the nerve sheaths, bone spaces, lymph into the bloodstream.
The chemicals released also affects other organs and cells in the body,which creates chronic pain, systematic inflammation and diseases. You may not experience the pain on the site of jawbone lesion, and this also helps to know the exact spot of the dental lesion.
The treatment for cavitational osteonecrosis involves identifying the area with the lesion and cleaning it thoroughly. The dentist will send the tissues and fluid removed from the affected area to the lab for analysis.
The dental surgeon may also use a laser to debride and decontaminate the area with the lesion, then place a biologically active substance in the hollow space of the bone to facilitate the healing process. Asides the surgical treatment, the patient also needs treatment to boost his/her immune system. This is usually a non-inflammatory diet with the right proportion of nutrients and different probiotics to enhance the microbial flora in the gut.
Treatment may also involve checking for toxic substances in the body, such as heavy metals and using the right course of treatment to remove or reduce the substance.
Dental cavitation may not be a well-known dental condition, but research is available to support the fact that it exists. The result of dental cavitation is usually a pain in the jawbone and sometimes other parts of the body.