As with any health care professional, your dentist wants to develop a long-term relationship with you. What this does is allows you to become comfortable with the dentist and to feel at ease whenever going in for treatment or checkups, and to allow the dentist to get to know you and to understand your needs as a patient as best as possible.
Therefore, it is vitally important and crucial to inform your dentist of any medication that you take. Even if you think it is irrelevant or will not make a difference; the smallest of details can make a huge difference down the line. You may not know this; however certain medications and treatments can actually play a massive influential factor in treatment decisions; and the same can be said in particular for osteoporosis treatments.
Osteoporosis, simply put, is a skeletal disease and has recently emerged as a major health problem which tends to affect middle-aged and older people. In fact, it has recently been associated with various oral health conditions such as periodontal disease, reduced jaw bone density, tooth loss amongst other things.
Unfortunately, osteoporosis is a silent disease so is very hard to spot until a fracture occurs. Of course, it is treatable which we shall come on to very soon – but there is also a direct correlation between osteoporosis and our oral health and wellbeing. You see, there is it has been reported that women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience some form of tooth loss than those that do not have the disease.
As we have just mentioned, there are treatments available for osteoporosis which is good news for all involved. However, with many medications and agents, there are some forms of side effects that can cause further damage and harm to our oral health, jaw lines and so on. Therefore, it is so important to visit your dentist should you be diagnosed with osteoporosis. The sooner you can see your dentist, the better.
First of all, allow us to break the types of medication down slightly; Medicines that help to strengthen bones come under the antiresorptive agent’s category. These have in the past become associated with a rare but sometimes serious condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw. This can cause serious damage to the jawbone.
There are other antiresorptive agents known as Fosamax, Actonel, Atelvia, Didronel, and Boniva. These are taken orally to help treat and even prevent osteoporosis (which relates to the thinning of the bone) and even Paget’s disease of the bone. This is a disorder that can be classed as a deformity, in which there are abnormal bone destructions and regrowth.
There are also other antiresorptive agents, most commonly Bovina IV, Prolia and Reclast. All of these agents are administered by injection. These agents can also be used to treat cancer and to reduce bone pain associated with prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, and metastatic breast cancer.
How do these medications affect dental treatments?
As we mentioned earlier, the antiresorptive agents used to treat osteoporosis can sometimes also cause osteonecrosis which can cause severe damage to the jaw. This can happen just spontaneously and randomly, however, the most common causes stem from dental procedures that can affect the bone or associated tissues (pulling a tooth for example).
That is why it is so important to tell your dentist if you are taking any form of antiresorptive agents. In knowing this type of information, your dentist can plan out your treatment plan much better and can put measures in place to reduce your risk of osteonecrosis.
One of the very hard things about osteonecrosis is that there is a pattern as to whom will be affected and who will not. There is no statistic to state whom should be considered high risk and this is why it can be very tough for dentists to plan treatment; especially if they are not made aware.
It is always a good idea for anyone starting to receive osteoporosis treatment with antiresorptive agents to go and see their dentist before they start treatment; or even shortly after. This will give your dentist plenty of time to plan ahead, and they can ensure that you have good oral health before going into the treatment so anything urgent can be looked after, and a suitable plan can be put together for the remainder of the treatment.
Should I still visit the dentist if I have osteoporosis?
At all times in our life, oral health is just as important as any other aspect of our health and wellbeing. It is vitally important to continue to visit. Even if you are taking antiresorptive agents for the treatment of osteoporosis then there should be no need to postpone or avoid dental treatment.
In theory, the risk of ever developing osteonecrosis of the jaw is very low indeed. In comparison to dental disease, you are more likely for a dental disease, if unnoticed, to progress and to become more serious; and in turn, may even have a knock-on effect to the bone and other tissues which will put you at a greater risk of needing invasive treatment.
As we mentioned previously, the best course of action is to visit your dentist upon your diagnosis of osteoporosis so if you do end up taking antiresorptive agents then your dentist can be ahead already planning various dental treatment plans and ensuring that any immediate danger or problems are dealt with.
What are the symptoms of osteonecrosis?
The symptoms of osteonecrosis can include anything from;
Loose teeth, exposed bones, a numbness sense of heaviness in the jaw. It can also include pain, swelling, or infection to the gums or jaw.
If you feel any form of these symptoms if you are undergoing treatment for osteoporosis, then it is very important to visit your dentist as soon as possible.