Osteoporosis is incredibly common and affects millions of people throughout the world. It’s estimated to affect approximately 1/3 of women over the age of 65. It’s a condition that tends to affect more women than men, especially after the menopause as diminished oestrogen levels can increase the rate of bone loss. It’s also something that can affect extremely thin young women who may have eating disorders that result in insufficient oestrogen being produced. People with untreated coeliac disease may also develop osteoporosis.
One of the problems with osteoporosis is that there are few warning signs that it is developing, as it’s often called a silent disease. It results in a decrease in bone density, and can even weaken bones to the point that they will break under normal stresses. However one of the early signs that osteoporosis may be developing is a loss of bone in the jaw, something dentist at Leeds City Dentalcare may be able to detect during a regular checkup, especially if they take dental x-rays. Signs of that osteoporosis may be affecting your mouth include noticing:
- Teeth have become loose
- You have developed gum disease
- Eating and speaking has become more difficult
- Dentures may fit less securely
It is important to try to maintain bone mass from an early age, as it tends to peak during the early 20s. Making sure you eat plenty of foods containing calcium can help, as can weight-bearing exercises.
Tell Your Dentist If You Are Taking Medication for Osteoporosis or are Receiving Cancer Therapy
People who do have osteoporosis may be given medication to help strengthen their bones, called antiresorptive agents. While these can be quite effective they can bring about an additional problem as they have been associated with an extremely rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw. This condition can cause extensive damage to the jawbone. Most people taking antiresorptive agents for osteoporosis will take them orally, and the risk of developing osteonecrosis is extremely low. In this case there is probably no need to avoid or postpone any dental treatment, but it is important to let our dental staff know you are taking these drugs.
However this group of drugs is also given to people receiving cancer therapy, and the doses tend to be much higher. In this case the risk is more substantial, so if you know you are likely to need these drugs then it is worth asking Leeds City Dentalcare for advice before you begin treatment. It is well worth having a check-up and making sure you have all essential dental treatment completed before taking these drugs. This way Dr David Brown or other dentists at our Leeds surgery can develop a treatment plan for you that will help keep your mouth healthy while you are receiving cancer therapy.
Symptoms of osteonecrosis can include noticing:
- Gums that have been injured or treated aren’t healing properly
- Developing a swelling or infection in the gums or jaw
- Some teeth may have become loose
- Experiencing a sense of heaviness in the jaw
- Some bone may become exposed
It is important to emphasise that osteonecrosis is very rare, and if you have been prescribed antiresorptive agents for osteoporosis then you shouldn’t stop taking them. The risk of bone fractures and weakness is far higher than the risk of developing osteonecrosis.