Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose density and become more likely to fracture. It can affect any bone in your body. Within the United States, over 53 million people have a high risk of the condition or already have osteoporosis. Although it can affect anyone, it’s most common in women over the age of 50.
But what does this disease have to do with your oral health? Actually, a lot. In many cases, dentists are the first medical professionals to detect osteoporosis in patients through dental x-rays or changes they notice in your mouth. If you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis, the condition can have some serious effects on your oral health.
Oral Health Concerns with Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis weakens your bones, making them more likely to break. It also has the potential to weaken your jawbone. When it comes to osteoporosis and your teeth, a weakened jawbone means that you’re more susceptible to tooth loss. In fact, women who have this condition are three times more likely to deal with tooth loss.
Dentures and Osteoporosis
If you wear dentures, osteoporosis still impacts your oral health. It’s possible for bone loss caused by the disease to affect the bony ridges that are keeping your dentures in place. This results in a poor fit, which means that you could require new dentures more often if you have this condition. Along with poorly fitting dentures, osteoporosis can also make you more likely to have less than optimal outcomes when you have oral surgery.
Could Osteoporosis Leave You Susceptible to Gum Disease?
Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a chronic infection affecting the gums and bones supporting your teeth. Your immune system and bacteria begin breaking down the connective tissue and the bone holding your teeth in place. This can lead to loose teeth, and eventually, tooth loss.
Some studies have even found a relationship between bone loss and gum disease. It’s thought that the loss of mineral density leaves your bone more susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum disease. This increases your risk for both gum disease and tooth loss.
Osteoporosis Medications and Oral Health
If you have osteoporosis, you may be prescribed medications for the disease. Bisphosphonates, one group of medications used to treat the disease, have been linked to a condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw. It occurs when the jaw bone becomes exposed and starts starving from lack of blood, and the bone begins to weaken and die. While the condition is rare, common symptoms include a heavy feeling in the jaw, pain in your jaw or gums, exposed bone, and loose teeth.
Taking Steps to Prevent Osteoporosis
It’s essential to take steps to keep your bones strong and healthy, reducing your risk of osteoporosis and the accompanying oral health complications. Tips for optimizing bone health include:
- Eating a diet that’s rich in vitamin D and calcium
- No smoking
- Engage in routine physical activity, especially weight-bearing activities and resistance exercises
- Limit your intake of alcohol
- Talk to your dentist about any problems with ill-fitting dentures, receding gums, or loose teeth
While osteoporosis prevention is essential, if you do have the disease, early intervention is critical in managing the condition and your overall oral health. Make sure you schedule routine dental checkups so your dentist can monitor your dental health to prevent problems or catch issues early.
If you’re dealing with advanced osteoporosis, we offer treatment options for patients who may require tooth extractions and/or dentures. Contact First-in-Smiles Dentistry today to set up your next visit so we can help you enjoy the best oral health possible throughout your life.