The Link Between Bone Density and Oral Health
Many people consider their dental health to be separate from their overall health, but the truth is that dental health can have a positive or negative effect on a person’s overall health, and vice versa. Research has shown a link between oral health and bone density, especially in older individuals who are already more at risk for developing bone-related problems such as osteoporosis and tooth loss. Women are especially susceptible to experiencing tooth loss as a result of poor oral health and osteoporosis. In order to combat the effects of poor oral health it is important for individuals to seek prompt treatment for osteoporosis and other diseases that could lead to a loss of bone density, such as periodontal disease.
What Causes Loss of Bone Density?
Loss of bone density can be caused by a variety of factors, but one of the most common causes is osteoporosis, which is a painful condition that causes the bones to become brittle and less dense. Additional factors include the loss of one or more teeth due to periodontal disease, old age, or an injury. In the United States, loss of bone density due to osteoporosis is a surprisingly common problem that affects millions of people. Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, especially as they age. Genetics also play an important role in the development of this painful and often-times debilitating disease.
Osteoporosis and Dental Concerns
Individuals who develop osteoporosis often experience symptoms in the wrist, spine, and hip bones. However, the disease is not always limited to these areas and can potentially affect any bone throughout the entire body, including the jaw bone. Research has confirmed that there is a link between osteoporosis in the jaw bone and osteoporosis in other parts of the body. As the disease attacks the jaw bone, it can result in a significant loss in bone density, which can lead to the loss of one or more teeth. Out of all adults aged 65 and older, approximately one-third of them suffer from tooth loss that is associated with decreased bone density in the jaw bone.
Dentists are especially concerned about the link between osteoporosis and oral health because several dental problems can stem from decreased bone density in the jaw, including:
- Tooth loss
- Ill-fitting dentures due to loss of jaw bone density
- Shifting of teeth Poor outcomes after undergoing certain oral surgical procedure
How Bone Health Affects Periodontal Disease
Although it is not yet known exactly how periodontal disease affects bone health, research has shown a clear link among tooth loss, periodontal disease, and general bone loss. Some dentists and scientists suspect that bone loss in the mouth gives periodontal bacteria an easier way of entering the bone, which can then lead to the development of periodontal disease and subsequent tooth loss. The relationship between bone health and periodontal disease is still being studied in order to gain a better understanding of the correlation between the two.
In order to maximize dental health and bone health, it is important for individuals to seek prompt treatment at the first sign of periodontal disease. With proper treatment at the first sign of gum disease, it may be possible for patients to decrease their chances of experiencing oral bone loss.
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