What is a Cavitation?
Very simply, a cavitation is a “hole” in a bone.  When dentists speak of cavitations they are speaking of areas of the jawbone where the bone has been infected and the body has attempted to wall off the infection.  The end result is a semi-contained “bubble” of infectious bacteria, dead (necrotic) bone material, and other toxins.   According to the “focal infection theory” this toxic sludge will slowly leak out (eventually), spreading to other areas of the body and can negatively impact the overall health of the patient.   The difficulty lies in diagnosing these hidden areas of bacteriological infection.

Why do Cavitations develop in the jawbone?
It is believed that cavitations mainly develop as a direct result of incomplete healing from some form of trauma to the jawbone.  There are many types of trauma that can begin this process.  The list of such traumas may include tooth extractions, root canals, jaw surgery, and restorations (crowns or fillings) that are “left too high” and cause a mini-trauma with every bite.  Other causes of cavitation formation are reduced or poor circulation in the jawbone, clotting disorders, and the use of steroids, blood clotting medications or some osteoporosis drugs.  It has also been found that periodontal disease may increase the likelihood of a person developing a jawbone cavitation.

How do you diagnose a cavitation in my jawbone?
Screening for cavitations through x-ray readings can be difficult because they are rarely readily visible.  Most often they show up only as very subtle differentiation’s in the texture pattern of the bone in  a traditional 2- dimensional x-ray.  3-dimensional x-rays, actually a CT scan  can provide much more accurate information.

Why is this so?  Osteonecrosis (Cavitations) is a disease of the marrow spaces of bone and 40% to 50% of such bone must be destroyed before changes can be seen on x-rays.  Therefore, 2-D x-rays will likely be interpreted as normal unless (1) there’s a significant amount of bony destruction or (2) the doctor is specifically looking for possible areas where the health of the jawbone may have been compromised.

There are other ways to discover likely cavitation sites (screen for them).  For example, they will sometimes cause pain when the area is lightly stroked or when pressure is applied. CT scans and Thermography scans are also useful in helping find potential cavitation sites; however these are not recognized as a diagnostic devices capable of diagnosing cavitations.  Therefore, the patient must assimilate all the evidence and decide how they want to proceed with treatment.

What are the treatment options for an area diagnosed as having a cavitation?
Each patient’s treatment choice will be different depending on his/her needs and desires.  Recommendations can range from oral surgery, ozone and laser therapy, homeopathic care or no treatment at all.  To make an informed decision regarding which is most appropriate, considerable research into each option should be done, as each option has its own set of pros and cons.