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Oral Health and Bone Disease

Oral health and bone disease facts*

*Oral health and bone disease facts medical author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by loss of bone density; affected bones are more likely to fracture.
  • Tooth loss can occur when the bone of the jaw becomes less dense.
  • Osteoporosis in the jaw bone has been associated with osteoporosis in other sites.
  • It is not known whether medical treatments for osteoporosis affect bone density in the jaw.
  • Bisphosphonates, which are medications for the treatment of osteoporosis, have been linked to the development of a serious condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).
  • Dental X-rays may be used as a screening test for osteoporosis.
  • Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to have tooth loss than those with normal bone density.

Introduction to oral health and bone disease

Osteoporosis and tooth loss are health concerns that affect many older men and women. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture. This disease can affect any bone in the body, although the bones in the hip, spine, and wrist are affected most often. In the United States more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.

Research suggests a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. The bone in the jaw supports and anchors the teeth. When the jawbone becomes less dense, tooth loss can occur, a common occurrence in older adults. Tooth loss affects approximately one-third of adults age 65 and older.


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