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Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Periodontal disease is characterized by a progressive loss of supportive gingival tissue in the gums and 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 and irritate the soft tissues surrounding the teeth.  If left untreated, bacteria colonies initially cause the systematic destruction of gum tissue, and then proceed to destroy the underlying bone tissue.

Osteoporosis is a common metabolic bone disease which frequently occurs in postmenopausal women, and occurs less frequently in men.  Osteoporosis is characterized by bone fragility, low bone mass and a decrease in bone mineral density.  Many studies have explored and identified a connection between periodontal disease and 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 and periodontal disease, the researchers have thus far made the following connections:

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

  • Low mineral bone density – This is thought to be one of several causes of osteoporosis, and 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 and Treatment

Osteoporosis and periodontal 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 and treat the diseases:

  • Routine dental X-rays – X-rays can be effectively used to screen for bone loss in the upper and lower jaw, and the dentist can provide interventions for preventing and 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 and also lowers gingival inflammation, which in turn protects the teeth from periodontal disease.

  • Assessment of risk factors – Dentists and 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 and modifiable risk factors.  Tobacco use, obesity, poor diet and estrogen deficiency can all be managed using a combination of education, support and prescription medications.

If you have any questions about periodontal disease and its connection with osteoporosis, please contact our practice.

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Testimonials

"Friendly staff, very clean offices, thorough explanation of services and pro-active maintenance tips, no pain...all you could ask for in a dental team! Thanks"

I came to Hawthorn Woods Family Dentistry, since I had problems with my gums and overall dental health. Dr. Copeland provided a consultation and recommended a long-term treatment plan, which included porcelain veneers and improving my overall dental health in the course of two years. I could not believe the transformation and I enjoyed being part of the process!
Dr. Copeland performed the dentistry for my porcelain veneers, which look natural and help keep my gums healthy. Dr. Copeland gave me the smile I never had, but always wanted and did so in a caring and professional manner.
The staff at Hawthorn Woods Family Dentistry wanted to make sure I was happy and healthy and were accommodating to my schedule by providing appointments that worked for me.
What I like most about Hawthorn Woods Family Dentistry is that the aftercare and preparation were just as important to Dr. Copeland and his staff as the actual dentistry for the final fitting and placement of the veneers.

I went to your office to get a tooth extracted. I wanted to let you know what a wonderful experience I had! Jeffrey Copeland explained everything to me, helped me relax, feel at ease. The best part- I didn’t feel any pain! Never before have I felt more relaxed getting dental work! His assistant, Kristen, was just as comforting.

My sisters, Karen McGuinn and Sue Bowers, are patients of yours and highly recommended I come to you. The best advice I ever received from them!

I can’t say enough about Dr. Copeland. I’m going to recommend everyone I know to your practice!

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