According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated 75 million individuals throughout Europe, the United States and Japan are living with osteoporosis. From the increased risk of bone fracture to the chance you'll lose height, chances are your doctor has discussed several of the complications of osteoporosis with you. However, the one aspect of this condition that might be overlooked is the devastating impact it can have on your oral health. Don't let osteoporosis steal your smile and instead, here is some valuable information and a few tips to help keep your teeth healthy and strong:
Osteoporosis And Your Jaw
If you've recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may have prescribed a class of drug called "biphosphonates." These drugs work by targeting the cells that destroy your bones. Unfortunately, biphosphonates also have another nasty side effect: they can make it difficult for new bone cells to form, as well.
If your body is unable to produce enough new bone cells, or osteoblasts, your jaw can begin to degrade. Unlike many of the bones throughout your body, your jawbone goes through several changes in shape that cannot occur if there isn't a healthy supply of osteoblasts.
This type of bone loss is called osteonecrosis and is often characterized by the following symptoms:
A long string of unexplained infections
Extreme jaw pain
Loose teeth or tooth loss
If you have osteoporosis, are currently taking a biphosphonate and experience any of the following symptoms, don't hesitate to contact your dentist immediately. If you're currently working with a cosmetic dentist to have dentures fitted, it is also vital to share your concerns. Osteonecrosis can be a very painful condition that can have a profound impact on your jawline, teeth and smile.
Dentures and Osteoporosis
The bone loss associated with osteoporosis can also impact a patient who wears dentures. If your jawbone begins to degrade, it can interfere with the way your dentures sit in your mouth. Not only are ill-fitting dentures uncomfortable, they can also lead to several other issues.
For example, many patients with ill-fitting dentures have trouble eating, which can lead to a nutritional deficiency and severe weight loss. Loose dentures can also lead to mouth sores and damage to the gum tissue.
If you're concerned about the impact that osteoporosis can have on your dentures, speak to your cosmetic dentist about your options.
What You Can Do To Keep Your Smile Strong
The impact that osteoporosis can have on your oral health can be devastating. However, with the help of your doctor and dentist, there are several ways you can help keep your mouth healthy and strong for several years to come:
Ask your doctor about the amount of calcium you should be adding to your diet. Your physician may suggest taking a supplement or consuming foods that are packed with calcium, including almonds and dairy products.
Stop smoking and cut down on your alcohol consumption
Perform exercises that help promote bone health, such as jogging or walking
Add a few vitamin D rich foods to your diet, including certain type of fish, such as tuna and trout, mushrooms and orange juice. Sunlight is also a great source of vitamin D.
Continue to brush your teeth twice-a-day, use mouthwash, floss and visit your dentist at least twice each year.
Being diagnosed with osteoporosis can be overwhelming, especially if you begin to suffer the devastating oral health symptoms that are associated with this condition. If you're struggling with osteoporosis and are concerned about the health of your teeth, jaw and gums, don't hesitate to ask your cosmetic dentist what you can do ensure you continue to have a bright, healthy smile!