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Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Periodontal disease is characterized by a progressive loss of supportive gingival tissue in the gums and jawbone.  It is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world.  Periodontal disease occurs when toxins found in oral plaque inflame and irritate the soft tissues surrounding the teeth.  If left untreated, bacteria colonies initially cause the systematic destruction of gum tissue, and then proceed to destroy the underlying bone tissue.

Osteoporosis is a common metabolic bone disease which frequently occurs in postmenopausal women, and occurs less frequently in men.  Osteoporosis is characterized by bone fragility, low bone mass and a decrease in bone mineral density.  Many studies have explored and identified a connection between periodontal disease and osteoporosis.

A study conducted at the University of New York at Buffalo in 1995 concluded that post-menopausal women who suffered from osteoporosis were 86% more likely to also develop periodontal disease.

Reasons for the Connection

Though studies are still being conducted in order to further assess the extent of the relationship between osteoporosis and periodontal disease, the researchers have thus far made the following connections:

  • Estrogen deficiency – Estrogen deficiency accompanies menopause and also speeds up the progression of oral bone loss.  The lack of estrogen accelerates the rate of attachment loss (fibers and tissues which keep the teeth stable are destroyed).

  • Low mineral bone density – This is thought to be one of several causes of osteoporosis, and the inflammation from periodontal disease makes weakened bones more prone to break down.  This is why periodontitis can be more progressive in patients with osteoporosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Osteoporosis and periodontal disease are much less dangerous if they are diagnosed in the early stages.  Once a diagnosis has been made, the dentist will generally work with the patient’s doctor to ensure that both diseases are effectively controlled.

Here are some methods commonly used to diagnose and treat the diseases:

  • Routine dental X-rays – X-rays can be effectively used to screen for bone loss in the upper and lower jaw, and the dentist can provide interventions for preventing and treating periodontal disease.  It is believed that minimizing periodontal disease will help treat osteoporosis.

  • Estrogen supplements – Providing post-menopausal women with estrogen supplements lowers the rate of attachment loss and also lowers gingival inflammation, which in turn protects the teeth from periodontal disease.

  • Assessment of risk factors – Dentists and doctors are able to closely monitor the patients that are at an increased risk of developing both diseases by assessing family history, medical history, X-ray results, current medications and modifiable risk factors.  Tobacco use, obesity, poor diet and estrogen deficiency can all be managed using a combination of education, support and prescription medications.

If you have any questions about periodontal disease and its connection with osteoporosis, please contact our practice.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

Dr. Peters has been my dentist since I was 15 years old and his father was my orthodontist. Dr. Peters comes from a legacy of the most gifted professionals in his field. He is highly respected. To his credit, my daughter, two sons, mother, sister… My entire family trusts, only, Dr. Peters for all their dental needs. Hands-down, he is the best in his profession.
Although we still live in Fresno, we drive four hours away to see Dr. Peters. My family's teeth are exceptionally beautiful! We wouldn't trust no one else to touch our teeth! Jealous as we may be of those who live in beautiful San Diego, we are willing to share him with you. Enjoy! :)

Cynthia B.

I first went to Dr Peters for a tooth ache. He saw me on a Sunday! His office is open every Saturday and Sunday which is very convenient for me since I work during the week. His staff was very welcoming. It turned out all I needed was a filling which they did for me that day. He is a perfectionist and very gentle. I love my new dentist.

Dana N.

My mom, Maryam Bahriny, has been going to Dr. Peters for the past year or so. She was so impressed with the quality of care and the treatment she received from the dentist and his staff that she recommended them to the rest of the family and friends. We all feel blessed to have found this office. The beauty of this office is that their number one focus is addressing concerns and treating patients with the highest quality yet the least expensive way. We completely trust this office with our dental needs.

Sahar B.

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