Osteoporosis is a bone disease that leads to the loss of bone density and mass. It can also cause the bones to weaken, which skyrockets the risk of fractures in turn.
Like multiple people struggling with osteoporosis, you might want to know if it affects your teeth as people say. The simple answer to that is – not directly. Considering your teeth aren’t actually bones, osteoporosis itself cannot be influential in changing your dental health or composition.
Having said that, osteoporosis does have an indirect impact on your dental health. This is primarily because it can change the integrity of your jaw, which will affect how your teeth are held in place. Truth be told osteoporosis has been linked with heightened chances of tooth loss for a reason.
Only brushing your teeth doesn’t suffice when you are struggling with osteoporosis. It is also important that you know how osteoporosis might affect your dental health.
What Are Teeth Made Of?
Teeth and bones do share some common characteristics; however, they are not made of the exact same materials. Your bones are mainly made of collagen and the mineral calcium phosphate. Teeth, on the other hand, have the four following layers:
#1. Enamel is the hard calcified tissue on the top (crown) of teeth that isn’t made of living cells
#2. Cementum is another type of hard tissue that protects a tooth’s root
#3. Dentin is below enamel and cementum, making up most of our teeth’s interior and providing structure
#4. The pulp is the innermost layer of our teeth and contains nerves and blood vessels
Osteoporosis is known to damage the bones’ ability to produce new tissue to make up their spongy interior. People often tend to mistake teeth for bones because the whitish enamel covering the crown of your teeth looks like bone. Unlike your bones, however, the enamel isn’t made of living tissues.
The connection between osteoporosis and tooth loss is already out there and has been subjected to umpteen scientific research works. These include:
The Osteodent study in 2009 measured the bone density of a subject of 651 women. The researchers found that women with osteoporosis had the tendency to have three fewer teeth on average as compared to the women who didn’t have the condition.
Again, survey data was collected from 333 people, 27% of whom were struggling with osteoporosis. These scientists concluded that having osteoporosis was “significantly correlated with reduced tooth number,” specifically for molars.
Another recent study conducted in 2017 concluded that postmenopausal women in the South Indian region had a higher chance of experiencing tooth loss, should they develop osteoporosis.
Researchers were quite clear when they mentioned that osteoporosis and tooth loss are directly linked, but they are yet to find out the exact nature of the correlation.
A primary theory of the correlation that is as osteoporosis progresses, your jawbone weakens and loses its appropriate density. As the jawbone weakens, teeth begin to get unstable. The changes in the structure and the integrity of the jawbone also affect the alignment of the teeth, often damaging the roots of the teeth and causing oral complications.
Osteoporosis Medications and Teeth
If you happen to take medication for osteoporosis, it is advisable to consult with your health expert about the probable impact on the teeth. Medications that are used to strengthen the bones can negatively impact the teeth and jawbone, unfortunately.
The treatment usually prescribed to people struggling with osteoporosis is bisphosphonate therapy. Bisphosphonates, can help in the strengthening of bones and help prevent fractures, and can be orally or intravenously administered. Multiple people also intake calcium or vitamin D, with bisphosphonates, as advised by the American College of Rheumatology.
Truth be told bisphosphonates do pose a threat to your jaw and teeth. Treatments under this category can be directly connected to the development of a rare degenerative condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). The Endocrine Society warned about the risk of developing ONJ is the highest after dental surgery. The frequency of the occurrences in people who have undergone “high-dose, long-term therapy, as might be given during cancer treatment”, increases.
Keeping Bones and Teeth Healthy
One of the crucial things that you can put at the top of your priority list is the health of your bones and teeth by maintaining a healthy dental care and oral hygiene regimen that can add and benefit to your overall well-being.
#1. Some key factors include:
#2. Eating a balanced diet
#3. Making sure you get 600 to 800 iu of vitamin D each day
#4. Aiming for 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day
#5. Not smoking, or considering quitting smoking if you currently smoke
#6. Limiting your consumption of alcohol
#7. Being physically active — the world health organization (WHO) has exercise guidelines by age group
If you happen to be facing trouble in the intake of enough calcium or vitamin D from your diet, it is wise to mention it to your doctor or your nutritionist about taking a supplement. It is advisable that you take supplements only as directed or prescribed.
Maintaining proper dental health and oral hygiene regimen is an important part of the long-term health of your precious pearls. The ADA or American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day for 2 minutes per session.
- Use toothpaste containing fluoride when brushing your teeth.
- Clean between your teeth daily (including flossing, interdental brushes, and others).
- Limit your intake of sugary beverages and snacks.
- Aim to visit your dentist for regular check-ups.
If you are taking resorptive agents like bisphosphonates, mention it to your dentists so they can include it in your treatment plan, especially if you have or will be undergoing procedures like tooth extraction. If your dentist knows and is able to accommodate it in your plant properly, you will probably not have to stop taking the medicine and not skip the process- both ends can be saved.
Know Your Risk
Keeping a track of your oral health is necessary especially if you already have dental health issues or if you already have the risk factors of osteoporosis.
Your chances of getting osteoporosis heighten with age. Women are more likely to struggle with osteoporosis, and the loss of estrogen that is followed by menopause can also add to it.
There is no current cure for osteoporosis, so prevention is the best way to go. However, there are multiple ways to manage osteoporosis and treatment options, according to research conducted in 2018 research.
Certain medicines for osteoporosis are meant to prevent bone loss, (also called antiresorptive medication), while others are meant to regrow the bones (also called anabolic medicines). Both categories of drugs are formulated to increase bone density and prevent bones from getting fractured in the future.
Based on your particular needs and health, your doctor might prescribe the following:
These are usually the initially prescribed medicines for postmenopausal women, and they function by slowing the corrosion of the bones.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs).
This category of medication is also called estrogen agonists. SERMs are mostly raloxifene, used to treat osteoporosis in women, and also other serious conditions like breast cancer.
Hormone Replacement Therapy.
These medicines are the synthetic version of our natural hormones. The loss of estrogen owing to menopause can also add to osteoporosis, estrogen therapy might also prove beneficial, however, it is not the conventional first-line treatment of osteoporosis. Testosterone therapy functions similarly to treat estrogen in men.
Popularly known as biologics, these can also slow down the process of bone erosion and catalyze the process of the formation of new bones. The two available drugs are denosumab and romosozumab, both administered through injections.
Parathyroid Hormone Therapies.
PTHs or Parathyroid Hormones are formulated to increase bone density and strength, helping the prevention of fractures and helping the healing process of old fractures. The PTH drugs teriparatide and abaloparatide are approved by the FDA and are usually administered through injections to treat osteoporosis.
It is an artificial version of a hormone that is secreted by your thyroid gland that regulates and controls calcium. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is administered in the form of nasal sprays. It is used for treating osteoporosis in certain premenopausal women.
Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements.
These are crucial in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.
PT or Physical Therapy is also used to treat osteoporosis and aims to strengthen muscle and bone to save the patient from future fractures. A Pt regimen is usually personalized specifically to your needs. It can also be done in some minutes every day at home or at regular sessions with some assistance from your physical therapist.
Treatments for osteoporosis can bring down the progression of the disease and in certain cases enable bone growth and development. Your dental health expert can help you address your oral complications and conditions that might take place owing to osteoporosis or the associated treatment.