Osteoporosis is one of the most common problems for adults over 50. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), half of all adults age 50 and older either have osteoporosis or have low bone density and should be concerned with their bone health.  

Bone Health and Oral Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes that osteoporosis and tooth loss are health concerns that affect many older men and women. While it often seems like osteoporosis only affects bones in the hips, spine and wrists, loss of bone density can occur in any bone in the body, including the jawbone.  

The alveoli are the sockets in the jawbone that hold the teeth. Both osteoporosis and periodontal disease are considered to be bone resorptive diseases, meaning the bone is broken down into its mineral constituents faster than new bone can be built. 

When the jawbone fails to rebuild bone as fast as it’s resorbed, the jawbone’s ability to hold the teeth is impaired and the NIH says many studies have found a link between the loss of alveolar bone and an increase in loose teeth and tooth loss. Archives of Medicine says that studies have shown an association between osteoporosis and tooth loss, and that women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those not having the disease. 

Predicting Osteoporosis 

According to Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry, the normal bone turnover rate in the alveoli is the fastest in the body and where the first signs of osteoporosis may be found.

Your dentist may see symptoms of tooth loss or gum disease that indicate the early stages of osteoporosis long before it would normally be diagnosed. 

Delta Dental lists other signs that may alert your dentist to the possibility of osteoporosis:

  • Bone loss in the jaw and around teethBone loss in the mouth may be a sign of bone loss in other parts of the body. Year-to-year comparisons of dental x-rays may indicate a decrease in jawbone density and the bone around your teeth, revealing advancing stages of the disease.
  • Tooth lossPeople with low bone mineral density tend to lose more teeth.
  • Loose or ill-fitting denturesBone loss may become so severe that it may be impossible to create functional dentures. Without the aid of dentures to chew many types of food, older patients may suffer severe nutritional deficiencies. In addition, ill-fitting dentures can lead to mouth sores and difficulty speaking.
  • Gum diseaseThis condition contributes to bone loss and may provide a clue to the diagnosis of an underlying disease such as osteoporosis.

Controllable Risk Factors

Some contributing factors to osteoporosis can not be changed, such as age, gender, race, and family history. There are, however, several controllable factors which can mitigate the disease. According to EndocrineWeb, they are:

  • Diet – Your intake of calcium and vitamin D is important throughout your lifetime but especially for older adults. Calcium helps to build strong bones, and vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. 
  • Some medical conditions – Certain medical conditions have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Conditions that require using corticosteroid drugs for more than 2 weeks—cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis—and chemotherapeutic drugs can all contribute to your osteoporosis risk. 
  • Physical activity levels – Exercise can help you raise your peak bone mass and strengthen your bones, making you less prone to fractures and breaks. 
  • Hormone deficiencies – Low levels of estrogen in your body, caused by eating disorders, high intensity exercise, and premature menopause, can contribute to osteoporosis risk. Similarly, low testosterone in men can affect bone health. 
  • Alcohol and smoking behavior – Both excessive alcohol use and smoking have been linked with an increased risk for osteoporosis. Alcohol abuse and smoking cessation programs can help you kick the habit—and improve your bone health.

Of course, Tucson Cosmetic and Family Dentist,  Dr. Brei, DDS will know immediately should he see the early stages of osteoporosis through X-rays or an examination. Good oral health can tell so much about our general health, and experienced professionals like those in the office of Dr. Brei can see problems before they become evident to even the best MDs. To be certain you get the earliest possible diagnosis of osteoporosis, get regular oral exams.

There are many ways to get in touch with the office of Dr. Brei. You can make an appointment via email at appointments@drbrei.com, call them at 520-325-9000, or click here to book online and schedule an appointment directly. Don’t become a victim of osteoporosis and bone loss; contact the office of Dr. Brei today!