What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones involving the reduction of bone mineral density and mass. These changes in bones can cause them to become more fragile and put them at greater risk of breaks or fractures.

Considered a “silent” illness because of the subtlety of or lack of any noticeable symptoms, many people who suffer from osteoporosis are not even aware that they have it until they break a bone. However, osteoporosis is the leading cause of bone fractures in older men and women.

How Is Osteoporosis Related to Oral Health?

When considering osteoporosis in the context of oral health, the potential connection to periodontal disease is that one that interests researchers. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, if left unchecked, can lead to the loss of the bone and connective tissues that hold teeth in place. Since both diseases can have an impact on bone, the interaction between the two is something that needs to be better understood.

Research is currently inconclusive when it comes to whether or not having osteoporosis can lead to an increase in the chances of developing gum disease, however, for those who are suffering from gum disease and osteoporosis, data indicates that there is a higher chance of seeing deterioration in the alveolar bone which hold teeth in place.

For this reason, it is a good idea to let your dentist know if you have osteoporosis, especially if you are currently being treated for, or at risk of developing gum disease, as the condition may cause periodontal disease to progress more quickly.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

In the US, it’s estimated that about 54 million people have osteoporosis. Bone mineral density tests ordered by your healthcare provider are the typical way that the disease is diagnosed. There aren’t any overt symptoms to look for, which is why, for many, bone fractures are the most obvious indicator, however, some things to watch out for include:

  • Reduction in height
  • Change in posture
  • Reduction in lung capacity
  • Pain in the lower back.

How Can Osteoporosis Be Avoided?

Recommended steps to take to lower your chances of developing osteoporosis include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin D and calcium
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol use