Osteoporosis and Dental Health

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Published on: January 25, 2012

In America, an estimated 10 million people are afflicted with osteoporosis, and 80% of these are women. This means, osteoporosis affects more women than cancer, stroke, and heart disease combined. In addition, low bone density (osteopenia) affects 34 million, and these people have a higher risk for developing osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteo- or osse- refers to bone, and –por- means passage, like porous. The suffix –osis means a condition. Osteoporosis, then, literally means a condition in which bone becomes porous, or, in other words, bone deterioration. It is a disease that causes bones to become more porous and brittle due to loss of the minerals required for strength. A person can suffer fractures, breaks, and deformities as bone loses density.

Who is at risk for developing osteoporosis?

The human body begins to decline after around age 30 to 40. In our 50s, bones begin to lose density, so they become more brittle and prone to fracturing. Age, then, is a major factor in developing osteoporosis. Diet, exercise, heredity, hormones, medications, and lifestyle also contribute to risk.

What does osteoporosis have to do with dentistry?

Dr. Seal and our team are interested in our patients’ whole health and quality of life, but osteoporosis does have a link with dentistry, periodontics in particular. People who take anti-resorptive agents, usually because of bone density problems, are at increased risk for osteonecrosis (bone death) in the jaw after extractions, implant placement, and gum surgery.

What is osteonecrosis?

Our bones, like teeth, are living structures. Infection, inadequate blood supply, or osteomyelitis can cause bone death, clinically called osteonecrosis. Bone cells die. Over time, the dead bone is absorbed by the body. Depending on the part of the body affected, bone replacement or grafting may be required.

How can you prevent osteoporosis?

The aforementioned risk factors should be addressed. Eat a healthy diet, rich in minerals that keep bones strong (calcium, for instance), and exercise regularly. If your family has a history of osteoporosis, talk with your physician about preventive measures. Women should take calcium supplements during pregnancy or upon recommendation by their physician.

How can you avoid complications if you’re taking anti-resorptive agents?

Tell Dr. Seal about all medications you are taking. He can advise you or work in conjunction with your general physician to reduce your risk for complications following oral surgery.

Call Dr. Seal for a consultation

If you’re considering dental implants or dentures, consult Dr. Seal, a board-certified Dallas prosthodontist. Located in North Dallas, Dr. Seal serves patients from the Park Cities, SMU area, and Katy Trail area. Call 214-361-0883 or visit our website at drseal.com.