Simple Steps To Better Dental HealthBack
space placeholder.space placeholder
New reviewed by Columbia banner
Osteoporosis and Your Jaw

space placeholder.space placeholder
space placeholder.Does osteoporosis affect your jaw?.
space placeholder. Can your dental health affect the bone density of your jaw?.
space placeholder. How do osteoporosis drugs affect your jaw?.
space placeholder. What is osteonecrosis of the jaw?.
space placeholder.Can osteoporosis affect dental implants?.
space placeholder.How can I avoid osteoporosis?.
space placeholder..
space placeholder

Osteoporosis is a loss of bone density that can make bones break easily. About 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis. About 8 out of 10 are women. Another 34 million people are at risk.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Does osteoporosis affect your jaw?
space placeholder

Osteoporosis can affect many bones, including your jaw. Some research has found that women with osteoporosis are more likely to lose teeth.

The jawbone's density is similar to other bones in your body. Dental X-rays are one tool to see decreases in bone density due to osteoporosis. If you have several sets of X-rays taken over 10 years or more, your dentist can compare them to see if you have lost bone.

space placeholder
space placeholder. Can your dental health affect the bone density of your jaw?
space placeholder

If you keep your teeth and maintain good gum (periodontal) health, your jaw will not lose much bone. But if you lose teeth or have them pulled, it can lead to bone loss in the jaw. It's like that phrase, "Use it or lose it." The bone doesn't have to do its job of keeping the teeth secure, so it starts to shrink.

Bone loss in the jaw can:

  • Change the shape of your face
  • Make it difficult to have implants placed
  • Make dentures not fit right, and eventually not fit at all

If you have dentures and they need relining and rebasing on a regular basis, you are losing bone in your jaw. The bone loss is changing the shape of your jaw so your dentures don't fit right anymore.

space placeholder
space placeholder. How do osteoporosis drugs affect your jaw?
space placeholder

Many people take drugs for osteoporosis. Bisphosphonate drugs are the most common. They include drugs like alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), and risendronate (Actonel). Calcitonin and estrogen therapy also are prescribed for people with osteoporosis. All of these drugs slow down the loss of bone.

Osteoporosis drugs can slow the loss of bone in your jaw, and sometimes even rebuild bone. But you have to start taking them early in the osteoporosis process. Start too late, and the best they will do is maintain the bone you already have.

Bisphosphonate drugs are a potential problem for women who have teeth removed. After a dentist removes a tooth, there can be sharp pieces of bone left behind. Normally, the body smoothes them out over time. However, if you are taking bisphosphonates, the sharp edges stay sharp. If you wear a denture, the sharp edges can cause an open sore on your gum with exposure of the bone. This can happen to you even if you do not wear a denture. Exposed bone in the mouth can become infected. This infection is known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.

space placeholder
space placeholder. What is osteonecrosis of the jaw?
space placeholder

Osteonecrosis is the death of bone tissue. It can happen anywhere in the body, including the jaw. This condition is rare.

Osteonecrosis usually happens in the lower jaw. It happens when bone is exposed and the wound does not heal. Infection can set in. Osteonecrosis is painful.

In extremely rare cases, the condition has occurred in people who were taking bisphosphonate drugs for osteoporosis. It has happened more often in people taking these drugs for cancer treatment. The doses for cancer treatment are about 1,600 milligrams. Doses for osteoporosis treatment are about 60 milligrams.

Dentists and oral surgeons should be careful to smooth out any sharp areas after removing teeth in women who are using bisphosphonates. This will reduce the risk of osteonecrosis.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Can osteoporosis affect dental implants?
space placeholder

Taking osteoporosis drugs also can affect dental implants. The implants might not "stick" in the bone as well as they should. That's because these drugs stop bone from being broken down or reshaped. Therefore, your body can't reshape the bone to bond to the implants.

space placeholder
space placeholder.How can I avoid osteoporosis?
space placeholder

The best way to avoid osteoporosis is to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day. This is especially important early in life, when your bones are still growing. Exercise also helps to keep your bones strong. Ideally, try to do some weight-bearing physical activity (such as walking or running) most days of the week.

.
.

© 2002-2014 Aetna, Inc. All rights reserved. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions. External website links provided on this site are meant for convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement. These external links open in a different window.