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Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

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Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Periodontitis or gum disease is the progressive loss of gums and jaw bone. It is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults who live in developed countries. It happens when the toxins in plaque irritate and inflame the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth. When not treated, bacteria colonies destroy gum tissue and then destroy underlying bone as well.

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that’s very common, especially in women who have been through menopause. It also happens in men, but less frequently. Osteoporosis is marked by the fragility of bones, low bone mass and lower bone mineral density. Studies have long explored the connection between gum disease and osteoporosis and have established a link.

One 1995 study from the University of New York at Buffalo found that postmenopausal women with osteoporosis had an 86 percent increased risk of developing gum disease.

Reasons The Connection Exists

Studies on the relationship between osteoporosis and gum disease are ongoing, but researchers have established the following compelling connections:
  • Estrogen deficiency. A lack of estrogen goes along with menopause and also speeds the progression of bone loss in the mouth. Estrogen loss also causes an acceleration in the rate of loss of attachment fibers and tissues that keep teeth stable.
  • Low mineral density in the bones. Among the likely causes of osteoporosis, low mineral density in the bones means bones are weak and that inflammation from gum disease can have a more devastating impact. That means that periodontitis in patients with osteoporosis may progress faster.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When diagnosed early, both periodontitis and osteoporosis are much less dangerous and easier to control. Once diagnosed with both conditions, your doctor and dentist can work together to make sure both diseases are managed properly.

Some of the methods used in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases are:
  • Dental x-rays. Radiography is the most effective way to assess bone loss in both the lower and upper jaw, and diagnosis means the dentist can intervene and prevent further damage. Minimizing periodontal disease is one way to treat osteoporosis on the whole.
  • Estrogen supplements. The rate of attachment loss in postmenopausal women can be slowed with estrogen supplements. These also lower gum inflammation, and that helps protect the mouth from periodontal disease.
  • Risk factor assessment. Doctors and dentists can monitor closely those patients that are at a high risk for both conditions by taking into account family history, the patient’s own medical history, x-rays, medications being taking and risk factors that can be changed. These include use of tobacco, being overweight, having a poor diet and having estrogen deficiency. These things can be managed with education and medications.
dr paige woods dds

Have questions about the strong link between periodontal disease and osteoporosis? Call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS.