Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & More

Condensing osteitis isn’t considered a very common dental condition. However, it’s one that can lead to complications if left untreated.

The good news is that your dentist can detect this condition with regular X-rays. You may also be referred to a specialist known as an endodontist for treatment.

Learn more about what condensing osteitis entails, whether there are any symptoms to look for, and your treatment options.

Condensing osteitis consists of abnormal bone growth and lesions that may result from tooth inflammation or infections. Also known as focal sclerosing osteitis, this dental condition is known for causing harder, denser bones, which primarily affects molars in your jaw area.

A diagnosis of condensing osteitis may come as a surprise, as this dental condition doesn’t necessarily cause any noticeable symptoms. It’s also not considered a common disease.

However, if your dentist has determined that you do have this condition, it’s important to seek recommended treatments to help prevent further damage to your teeth.

Unlike many other dental issues, condensing osteitis is largely asymptomatic. This condition is usually discovered during a routine dental visit with X-rays.

Sometimes the initial underlying causes of condensing osteitis may cause symptoms, such as mild pain. However, the abnormal bone growth is typically undetectable without a dentist.

Condensing osteitis is marked by abnormal bone hardening (sclerosis). The bone hardening tends to be localized, rather than a widespread issue in the mouth. Inflammation and infections are thought to be the primary causes of condensing osteitis, which may be associated with other dental conditions.

Pulpitis is one possible condition linked to this dental disease, which destroys tissue inside your teeth. Chronic, but mild inflammation of the root canal is another possibility, along with frequent infections.

Overall, condensing osteitis affects an estimated 4 to 7 percent of people. Young to older adults are the most affected. However, given the lack of symptoms, you may not realize you have this condition until your dentist finds it.

While not a common condition in itself, condensing osteitis is considered one of the most frequent forms of jaw lesions.

Unlike other dental diseases that might cause bone destruction, a key characteristic of condensing osteitis is that it leads to bone production.

Condensing osteitis is usually diagnosed after a dentist finds the condition on routine X-rays. If you’re found to have this inflammatory dental disease, your dentist may find the bone becoming denser in your jaw, underneath your teeth.

Additionally, your dentist may perform a biopsy on any bone lesions if the diagnosis is uncertain to rule out other possible dental conditions. This includes tumors or growths inside the jawbone.

Your dentist may refer you to a specialist called an endodontist. This is a type of dentist that specializes in issues that affect the interior of your teeth. They also help to diagnose tooth pain and perform root canals.

Treatment for condensing osteitis depends on the underlying cause. A dentist or endodontist may recommend the following options:

Research has shown that once teeth have been treated with a root canal, the bone lesions associated with this condition may resolve over time, with partial healing also possible. However, other researchers have noted that permanent pulp inflammation and damage may still exist.

Like condensing osteitis, hypercementosis starts affecting teeth beneath the surface. Both also commonly affect molars and premolars along the jaw area.

Both conditions are generally undetectable until found on dental X-rays, but they differ in their appearance on X-rays. Hypercementosis makes the tooth’s root look larger, whereas condensing osteitis is a reaction in the bone surrounding the tooth and is not directly attached to the root.

At the core of hypercementosis is the overproduction of a material called cementum, which covers the roots of your teeth. This can lead to noticeably thicker teeth, some of which may become stuck together.

Condensing osteitis could also cause pain with chronic pulpitis.

Some of the most common causes of hypercementosis include:

  • tooth trauma
  • impacted teeth
  • inflammation (similar to condensing osteitis)
  • Paget’s disease
  • thyroid disease
  • arthritis
  • rheumatic fever

Condensing osteitis is an uncommon condition that doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms, or it may cause mild pain. It’s most often caused by low-grade, chronic inflammation inside your tooth, which can then lead to abnormal bone growth. Premolars and molars are the most affected.

A dentist will likely recognize condensing osteitis on a routine X-ray and may recommend root canal treatment, or possibly refer you to an endodontist. Depending on their findings, a wait-and-see approach may also be suggested.

Early detection and treatment of dental issues such as condensing osteitis can reduce the risk of future bone and tooth problems. With this disease, it’s possible that any bone lesions may eventually go back to normal after treatment.

Janelle B. Smith

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