|Volume 6 Issue 162 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 10-Jun-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 11-Jun-2004||Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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Osteoporosis and oral health: Links help confirm earliest stages – before any bones fracture
Osteoporosis, a disease that decreases bone density and weakens bones, affects 10 million people. In addition, more than one-third of females over age 65 display signs and symptoms of the disease.
Most individuals inflicted with osteoporosis are not diagnosed until a fracture occurs. In addition, they are unaware that oral health problems, such as tooth loss and gum disease, are early signs that help their dentist to suspect osteoporosis, according to a report published in the May/June 2004 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD)
Risk factors for the disease are: age, heredity, calcium deficiency, smoking, menopausal women, excessive caffeine, alcohol and an inactive lifestyle.
As the disease progresses, the vertebral bones can become weakened, resulting in a curved backbone. Also, the other bones in the body, such as the hip, will become susceptible to fracture during normal everyday activities.
"Early osteoporosis signs can be seen in the mouth," says report author Aida Chohayeb, DDS, MSD. "When the dentist observes that some teeth are loose, the gums are not attached to the teeth, and that dentures do not fit well, dental x-rays will be taken to confirm the diagnosis. The x-rays will reveal the decrease in the jawbone density and bone around the teeth, as well as the remaining part of the jaws."
Then, the dentist would refer the patient to their physician to confirm the diagnosis its earliest stage.
Recently, after Julie Barna, DMD, MAGD, spokesperson for the AGD, noticed changes in a patient's mouth and after she assessed their risk factors for developing osteoporosis, she referred the patient to a physician for a bone mineral density test to confirm the diagnosis for osteoporosis. For patients with osteoporosis, Dr. Barna encourages them to practice good oral hygiene, to maintain regular dental check ups for frequent dental cleanings, to consume calcium and Vitamin D and add weight training to their exercise regimen.