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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 ask your dentist.

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Testimonials

My daughter Debbie is a dental hygienist and we Readings and the Bass family know a good dentist when we use them ( Jeff )! Dr. Strickland and his entire staff are "the most to say the least". We would not think of using anyone else.

John Reading, Pharmacist

Dr. Strickland & Staff:

I want to share my happiness with you all about my decision to switch dental providers a little over 1 year ago.

My only regret is " why did I wait so long?".

Each of you make each visit an extremely pleasurable experience. Dr. Strickland, I love your "chair-side" manner and your attention to detail is outstanding. I find myself looking forward to my dental appointments rather than dreading the session.

The warm and welcoming greetings along with the family-like interaction that your patients receive from Mary Virginia, Beth, Deirdre, Kyline and
Jennifer are endearing and make me feel like a family member, rather than just another patient!

It all is such a pleasant and comforting experience.

THANK YOU!

Michelle Pittman

Dr Strickland and staff is a fun and friendly office with a great team
with exceptional dental work. The reason I am taking the time to write this is
because I want people to know their is something special about this
Dentist and his staff.

I’m always surprised how much time Dr Strickland spends as he checked each
tooth and charts my gum line to the hygienist. Dr Strickland talks to me
about my teeth and gums and makes recommendations. They always treat me
well and meet my dental needs. Thank You Dr Strickland!!!!!!

Richard Wright 6 year patient

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