Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Periodontal disease is characterized by a progressive loss of supportive gingival tissue in the gums and jawbone and it is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Osteoporosis, on the other hand, is a common metabolic bone disease which frequently occurs in postmenopausal women. It is characterized by fragile bones, low bone mass, and a decrease in bone mineral density.

Lately, a lot of studies have explored and identified a connection between these two conditions. These studies go back to 1995, when a study conducted at the University of New York at Buffalo discovered that post-menopausal women who suffered from osteoporosis were 86% more likely to also develop gum disease.

Understanding the Connection

Although studies are ongoing, we do know some things about the relationship between osteoporosis and periodontal disease.

  • Low mineral bone density – This is one of the major causes of osteoporosis, and it is tied to dental health because the inflammation from periodontal disease makes weakened bones more prone to break down. This is why we see periodontitis act more aggressively in patients with osteoporosis.
  • Estrogen deficiency – Estrogen deficiency accompanies menopause and speeds up the progression of oral bone loss. This can then accelerate the loss of the fibers and tissues which keep the teeth stable.

How We Diagnosis and Treat the Problem

The sooner we detect osteoporosis and periodontal disease the sooner we can provide the necessary treatments and reduce the risk. Once we’ve diagnosed the situation, we can work with your doctor to ensure that both diseases are effectively controlled.

These methods are commonly used to diagnose and treat the diseases:

  • Estrogen supplements – Estrogen supplements for post-menopausal women can lower the rate of tissue loss and minimize gingival inflammation, which can help protect you from periodontal disease.
  • Routine dental X-rays – We can use our X-ray tools to screen for bone loss in the upper and lower jaw. We can then help prevent or treat any existing periodontal disease. It is believed that minimizing periodontal disease will help treat osteoporosis.
  • Assessment of risk factors – We will closely monitor our patients and determine risk factors by assessing family history, medical history, X-ray results, current medications and modifiable risk factors. Tobacco use, obesity, poor diet and estrogen deficiency are all factors and can all be managed with a combination of education, support and prescription medications.

Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns about osteoporosis and your dental health. We’ll be glad to speak with you about it.

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