Gum Disease and Osteoporosis

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Researchers have suggested that there is a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Studies suggest that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, preventing the teeth from having a solid foundation. Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy may offer some protection from tooth loss.

One study published in the June 2007 Journal of Periodontology (JOP) examined 1,256 postmenopausal women and looked for a potential association between periodontal bacteria and bone loss in the oral cavity. The results showed that women with periodontal bacteria in their mouths were also more likely to have bone loss in the oral cavity, which can lead to tooth loss if not treated. In addition, a study of 106 postmenopausal women over more than 10 years concluded they could significantly reduce tooth loss by controlling their periodontal disease

Another JOP study published in August 1999 concludes that estrogen supplementation in women within five years of menopause slows the progression of periodontal disease. Researchers have suspected that estrogen deficiency and osteopenia/osteoporosis speed the progression of oral bone loss following menopause, which could lead to tooth loss. The study concluded that estrogen supplementation may lower gingival inflammation and the rate of attachment loss (destruction of the fibers and bone that support the teeth) in women with signs of osteoporosis, thus helping to protect the teeth.

People diagnosed with osteoporosis have low or decreasing bone mass and must take extra care in performing day-today activities because they are at increased risk for bone fractures. Because bone loss is associated with both osteoporosis and periodontal disease, it is questioned whether the two are related. The association has been difficult to prove because of the many similar risk factors for these two diseases, including smoking, age, medications, and systemic diseases.

Source: Dr. Jonathon Richter, A Dental Wellness Center, 310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck. For additional information, call 516-282-0312 or visit

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