Periodontal Disease & Osteoporosis

Periodontal disease is characterized by a progressive loss of supportive gingival tissue in the gums & jawbone. It is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world. Periodontal disease occurs when toxins found in oral plaque inflame & irritate the soft tissues surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, bacteria colonies initially cause the systematic destruction of gum tissue, & then proceed to destroy the underlying bone tissue.

Osteoporosis is a common metabolic bone disease which frequently occurs in postmenopausal women, & occurs less frequently in men. Osteoporosis is characterized by bone fragility, low bone mass & a decrease in bone mineral density. Many studies have explored & identified a connection between periodontal disease & osteoporosis.

A study conducted at the University of New York at Buffalo in 1995 concluded that post-menopausal women who suffered from osteoporosis were 86% more likely to also develop periodontal disease.

Reasons for the Connection

Though studies are still being conducted in order to further assess the extent of the relationship between osteoporosis & periodontal disease, the researchers have thus far made the following connections:

Estrogen deficiency – Estrogen deficiency accompanies menopause & also speeds up the progression of oral bone loss. The lack of estrogen accelerates the rate of attachment loss (fibers & tissues which keep the teeth stable are destroyed).

Low mineral bone density – This is thought to be one of several causes of osteoporosis, & the inflammation from periodontal disease makes weakened bones more prone to break down. This is why periodontitis can be more progressive in patients with osteoporosis.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Osteoporosisperiodontal disease are much less dangerous if they are diagnosed in the early stages. Once a diagnosis has been made, the dentist will generally work with the patient’s doctor to ensure that both diseases are effectively controlled.

Here are some methods commonly used to diagnose & treat the diseases:

Routine dental X-rays – X-rays can be effectively used to screen for bone loss in the upper & lower jaw, & the dentist can provide interventions for preventing & treating periodontal disease. It is believed that minimizing periodontal disease will help treat osteoporosis.

Estrogen supplements – Providing post-menopausal women with estrogen supplements lowers the rate of attachment loss & also lowers gingival inflammation, which in turn protects the teeth from periodontal disease.

Assessment of risk factors – Dentists & doctors are able to closely monitor the patients that are at an increased risk of developing both diseases by assessing family history, medical history, X-ray results, current medications & modifiable risk factors. Tobacco use, obesity, poor diet & estrogen deficiency can all be managed using a combination of education, support & prescription medications.

If you have any questions about periodontal disease & its connection with osteoporosis, please   Request Your Appointment or Call us today at  301-585-1515.