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: heredity, calcium deficiency, smoking, menopause, excessive caffeine or 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 density of the jawbone 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.
Patients with osteoporosis are encouraged to practice good oral hygiene, to maintain regular dental checkups for frequent dental cleanings, to consume calcium and vitamin D and to add weight training to their exercise regimen.
- Consume calcium daily (1,000 to 1,200 milligrams)
- Exercise and weight train
- Add vitamin D to diet
- Quit smoking
- Decrease caffeine and alcohol intake
- Visit a dentist regularly
Updated: October 2008