Osteoporosis is a common condition affecting around 66% of Australian’s aged 50 and over. Whilst most people understand that this condition leads to weakened bones and greater susceptibility to fractures and breaks, many people are unaware of its impacts on oral health. Whilst osteoporosis does not directly affect the health or composition of your teeth, people with osteoporosis are more likely to experience tooth loss due to changes in the integrity of their jaw.
Osteoporosis and Your Teeth
It is important to note that despite sharing a few common characteristics, teeth are not bones. Bones are primarily comprised of collagen and calcium phosphate, whereas teeth are composed of four different layers.
Teeth consist of:
- Enamel – a hard, protective layer of calcified tissue which covers the teeth.
- Cementum – a calcified tissue layer which covers and protects the root of the tooth.
- Dentin – beneath the enamel and cementum lies the dentin, which forms the bulk of the tooths interior, absorbs pressure and provides structure to the enamel.
- Pulp – a mass of connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels situated at the centre of the tooth.
A common mistake people make is assuming that teeth are bones, largely due to their bone like appearance and the fact they both contain calcium. One key difference between bones and teeth is that the former contains living tissues, whereas the outermost layer of the teeth (the enamel) does not contain any living tissues at all. Osteoporosis can hinder the ability for bones to produce new tissue, increasing the risk of fractures and breaks. However, the teeth are not directly effected by osteoporosis at all.
How Can Osteoporosis Affect Dental Health?
Osteoporosis can affect dental health in the following ways.
- Jawbone Density – The jawbone plays a key role in anchoring the teeth. Any reduction in bone density in the jaw may lead to loosening of the teeth, difficulty chewing and potentially even tooth loss.
- Tooth Loss – Studies have shown that individuals with osteoporosis are at a heightened risk of experiencing tooth loss. This is due to the fact that weakened bones cannot adequately support the roots of the teeth.
- Gum Disease – Due to loss of bone density in the jawbone, people with osteoporosis are at an increased risk of gum disease (periodontitis).
- Poor Bone Healing – Osteoporosis can impair the body’s ability to heal after dental procedures or surgeries involving the jawbone. This may result in additional complications or extended recovery times.
Managing Oral Health with Osteoporosis
Whilst regular dental check-ups are important for everyone, they are especially crucial for individuals with osteoporosis. Our team of experienced dentists can detect early signs of gum disease and monitor the condition of your jawbone. Early intervention can prevent tooth loss and reduce the risk of experiencing other complications.
It is also important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Vitamin D and calcium are especially important for maintaining strong bones and teeth, and these should ideally be obtained through natural sources. If dietary intake is insufficient, supplements may be advisable.
You should also discuss your medication with your doctor and dentist. Some medications prescribed for osteoporosis can have side effects which affect oral health.
Book an Appointment at Sydney Park Dental Today
Osteoporosis doesn’t just affect the bones; it can also have an impact on oral health. By making some simple lifestyle changes and attending regular check-ups, you can still maintain a healthy smile.
Are you due for a check-up? Book an appointment at Sydney Park Dental today. We look forward to seeing you soon.