Oral health is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when someone is diagnosed with osteoporosis, the condition that causes bones to become brittle, weak, and, ultimately, fracture. But bone is a living tissue that is constantly breaking down and being replaced, and osteoporosis is what happens when the creation of new bone can’t keep up with the removal of old bone. Research has suggested that there is a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jawbone which is, of course, the support and anchor of your teeth.
There are 40 million Americans who have osteoporosis or are at high risk for the condition. And tooth loss is a common affliction among adults over the age of 65, affecting about one-third of this demographic. Women who are past menopause are the most common sufferers of osteoporosis and they should be aware of the accompanying dental concerns. If you have osteoporosis, you’re about three times more likely to experience tooth loss than people without this problem. Osteoporosis is also linked to fewer positive outcomes in oral surgery, and low bone density in general can result in other dental issues besides just tooth loss.
Oral Health Complications Caused by Osteoporosis
While many people who experience tooth loss will turn to dentures for a solution, studies have indicated that women over the age of 50 who have osteoporosis need new dentures about three times more often than women without osteoporosis. Sometimes, dentures are simply too difficult to fit because of osteoporosis complications, and this inability to depend on strong teeth impacts a person’s nutrition and overall well-being.
It has recently been discovered that biophosphenates, a drug taken by people for the treatment of osteoporosis, could lead to a rare complication called osteonecrosis which could cause infection of the gums or jaw as well as pain or swelling. Always keep in mind, however, that gum swelling, tenderness, or bleeding can also be a sign of gum disease. Your dentist can identify the cause of your discomfort.
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis in the Jaw
Research by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS) has suggested that dental X-rays may be a good screening tool for osteoporosis in general, separating people with osteoporosis from those who exhibit normal bone density. In other words, your dentist could actually be helpful in identifying your osteoporosis before a medical doctor diagnoses this affliction.
Combating the Oral Health Effects of Osteoporosis with Dental Implants
While your dentist cannot aid you in strengthening your bones – this is something that depends on your genetics, but also your lifestyle choices like exercise and nutrition – they can help create a new foundation for your teeth if you’re at the point where you are experiencing tooth loss. Dental implants replace the roots of your teeth, which is essential to maintaining the jaw support needed to keep your face shape normal. Dental implants are also a permanent solution that stays in place, unlike dentures, and they mimic the look of natural teeth.
With dental implants you can help combat the effects of osteoporosis, and enable yourself to eat and speak normally with no fear of losing your dentures or worrying about loose teeth. Learn more about the risks osteoporosis could cause for your oral health and what restorative dentistry options are available to correct tooth loss and jaw pain. Contact Red Bank Dentistry to schedule your free initial consultation.