Osteoporosis is a common health condition, especially as we grow older. It may impact up to 20% of adults, including 23% of men and 50% of women over the age of 50. Osteoporosis can be impacted by nutrition and leading an active lifestyle, but to some extent osteoporosis progresses as we age.
Osteoporosis is primarily recognized for its association with hip and spine fractures. But it can also have significant impact on a person’s oral health. Here’s how.
Osteoporosis Linked to Poor Gum Health
Many studies have been done linking osteoporosis with poor gum health. Many of these studies have looked directly at the link between the bone condition and gum health. This includes one study finding that postmenopausal women with osteoporosis were more than twice as likely to have periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious form of gum disease that has been linked to gum disease. But it’s not just among older women that this link has been found. One study even found that low bone density was the strongest risk factor for having gum disease.
The exact cause for the connection is a little harder to suss out. Trying to determine whether there are confounders have revealed that the correlation isn’t caused by age, family income, or smoking.
Some have speculated that the link is estrogen deficiency. Estrogen plays a key regulatory role in many body systems, and when it diminishes the body is more likely to produce osteoclasts–cells that break down bones as part of the body’s natural repair and replace system.
Estrogen may also be related to gum disease. It plays an important role in regulating a woman’s immune system, so when it decreases, the body may lose its ability to properly fight gum disease bacteria.
Loss of Tooth Support
Another problem with osteoporosis is that it can cause the loss of bone around your teeth. Women with osteoporosis are more likely to develop tooth mobility (when teeth can move around in their sockets) and tooth loss.
That’s because the jawbone is also strongly affected by the loss of bone density. In fact, it may be one of the most affected bones in the body because of its dynamic nature–the body is constantly reshaping the bone in our jaw, it’s what allows us to use orthodontics to move the teeth.
Unfortunately, in the case of osteoporosis, it works against us.
But what happens once you lose a tooth? Will osteoporosis impact your ability to get dental implants? Potentially.
If you have osteoporosis, there is less bone to support your dental implants. In theory, this could lead to dental implant failure. However, in practice, dental implants work just fine for most people with osteoporosis. Sometimes we may have to recommend larger dental implants, or more dental implants. But overall osteoporosis isn’t a major concern for dental implants.
In fact, dental implants are a better treatment than traditional dentures for people with osteoporosis because they can help maintain the jawbone. Denture wearers tend to lose bone in their jaw, and this can be worse if they have osteoporosis.
A more serious concern among people with osteoporosis is the osteoporosis medication bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates can increase the risk of a serious complication known as osteonecrosis of the jaw. This is a very rare complication, and your risk may not be elevated much unless you are getting IV bisphosphonates, but it’s still an important concern.
Oral Health Challenges Increase with Age
Osteoporosis is just one of many health factors that contribute to our oral health risks as we age. Fortunately, with proper care the potential risks of osteoporosis can be addressed so that you can have a healthy mouth for your entire life.
If you are looking for an Orlando area dentist to help you take proper care of your oral health as you get older, please call (407) 834-6446 today for an appointment with Dr. Michael L. Weinstock in Altamonte Springs.