Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Women and Osteoporosis

"A woman’s mouth can say a lot about osteoporosis"

Dental links to osteoporosis If you’re a woman, particularly age 50 or above, your dentist may be the first health professional to suspect you have osteoporosis — and refer you to a physician before the disease advances. Osteoporosis weakens bones by reducing their density. Although the disease may strike any gender at any age, the vast majority of sufferers are women over age 50. Osteoporosis is difficult to detect, and most patients are not diagnosed until their bone density has decreased to the point that a fracture occurs. However, symptoms of tooth loss or gum (periodontal) disease could indicate early stages of osteoporosis. Your dentist may detect the onset of the disease based on oral symptoms, your medical history (including risk factors) and results of a clinical and x-ray examination. This is why it’s important to visit your dentist regularly and to provide him or her with your complete medical history, even if you don’t think it relates to oral health.

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Signs of osteoporosis

There are several signs that alert dentists to the possibility of osteoporosis:
  1. Bone loss in the jaw. This may be a sign of bone loss in other parts of the body.
  2. Tooth loss. Studies suggest that women with low bone mineral density tend to lose more teeth.
  3. Ill-fitting dentures in post-menopausal woman. Studies show that post-menopausal women with osteoporosis need new dentures three times more often after age 50 than women without osteoporosis. Bone loss may become so severe that it may be impossible to create functional dentures. Without the aid of dentures to chew many types of food, older patients may suffer severe nutritional deficiencies.
If your dentist suspects you have osteoporosis, he or she can refer you to a physician for medical assessment and subsequent treatment. In addition to scheduling regular dentist visits, you can help prevent osteoporosis by:
  1. Getting enough calcium each day, through diet or supplements (women/1,200mg; men/800mg; anyone over age 65/1,500mg)
  2. Adding vitamin D to your diet
  3. Exercising
  4. Quitting smoking
  5. Decreasing caffeine and alcohol intake. 

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