What do experts say about Osteoporosis and antiresorptive medicines?
As you age, your bone density and jawbone may weaken if you have osteoporosis. This can cause you to have loose teeth or teeth falling out. Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to have tooth loss and have problems with loose-fitting dentures. Many people are prescribed antiresorptive medicines to help with osteoporosis. But these medications can have some side effects as well as cause other issues. It’s always important to communicate with your dentist about all the medications that you are currently taking and weigh the pros and cons.
Antiresorptive Medications for Osteoporosis - What are they?
Antiresorptive medicines help strengthen and prevent bone loss. This class of drugs called bisphosphonates may include Fosamax, Actonel, Atelvia, Didronel, and Boniva. These medications are taken to help prevent or treat osteoporosis (thinning of bone). As part of cancer treatment, medications such as Boniva IV, Reclast, or Prolia, are administered to reduce bone pain and other side effects.
Taking Osteoporosis medications may cause Osteonecrosis: What is it?
All of these antiresorptive medications have been associated with a serious (but rare) condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) that can cause severe damage to the jawbone. Cells in the jawbone die and your jawbone can poke through openings in your gums. Blood can’t reach these areas which then causes bone death. Once this condition worsens, you can lose sections of your jawbone and teeth.
If I’m on Antiresorptive medications, will I get ONJ?
Osteonecrosis can occur after dental procedures that affect the bone such as having a tooth pulled or a root canal. In addition, there have been cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw occurring without any dental procedure. But it’s rare.
Right now, your doctor cannot predict who will get osteonecrosis and who won’t. More than 90 % of those people who are diagnosed with ONJ are patients with cancer who have received multiple infusions of high doses of antiresorptive medications. Less than 10% percent of people with ONJ were receiving low doses of antiresorptive medications for the treatment of osteoporosis.
If you will be starting osteoporosis treatment with antiresorptive medications, it is best to see your dentist before so you can discuss the possible side effects. This way, we can make sure that you have a plan that will keep your mouth healthy.
Some risk factors for ONJ
Some Symptoms of ONJ
- mouth sores
- loose teeth
- a feeling of heaviness in the jaw
- numbness in the jaw
- swelling, infection, or pain in the gums or jaw
- recently treated (or injured) gums that are not healing
- exposed bone
- swollen gums
What can you do to lower your risk of getting Osteoporosis & lower your risk of ONJ?
The risk of getting ONJ is low. On the other hand, as you age, the risk of getting osteoporosis is high.
There are many things you can do to lessen your chance of getting osteoporosis or even treat it naturally once you’ve been diagnosed.
- daily exercise
- stop smoking
- eat a healthy diet
- drink less coffee
- limit alcohol to 2 drinks or less per day
- taking vitamin D
- getting daily exposure to sunlight
Regular Dental Appointments are Highly Recommended
What should you do if your regular doctor has put you on osteoporosis medications already? It is not generally recommended that patients stop taking their osteoporosis medications but as with all things, there are risks with taking certain medications and risks for not taking them. The pros and cons should be talked about with your dentist and doctor.
If you are concerned about your medications and want to talk to us about them, we offer free consultations to all our patients.