Pain, swelling or infection of the gums or jaw are some symptoms of jaw osteonecrosis, advises Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Gums that fail to heal, missing gum tissue that exposes bone, a numb or heavy feeling in the jaw, tooth loss, and pus exuding from jaw abscesses are additional indications.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw, or ONJ, is a condition in which exposed jaw bone weakens and begins to die due to a lack of blood, explains the American College of Rheumatology. Pain is usually present. Most cases of ONJ begin after a tooth extraction, although it can occur spontaneously in bony areas of the mouth. Cancer treatment, infection and steroid use can lead to ONJ. Anemia, poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, tobacco smoking and abuse of alcohol are other causes of ONJ, notes Consumer Dentistry Guide. ONJ often occurs in people who use bisphosphonates, a class of drugs that prevents bone loss.
As of 2015, there is no cure for ONJ, according to Consumer Dentistry Guide. Treatment involves use of antibiotics, mouth rinses and removable mouth appliances. Good oral hygiene, regular dental care, increasing calcium and vitamin D intake, exercising, and avoiding use of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can prevent ONJ.