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

I had a problem with an implant put in by another dentist a year or so earlier. I met with Dr. Shelton and he was extremely helpful in evaluating the problem and helping me correct it. I found him to be very patient, kind, knowledgable and skilled. Also, he was not rushed and he took the time to listen and better understand and evaluate the issue. I greatly appreciate him for the way he helped me with the dental/implant problem I was having. Based on my experience with him, I highly recommend Dr. Steven Shelton!

Steven L.

Wow, wow, wow, wow! I have never been to a periodontist that was so friendly, kind, down to earth and relatable. Dr Shelton has so much care, concern and passion for his patience, he truly sees you get the success and work you dream of. A smile is worth a thousand words and we all haven’t been blessed with such a thing, so knowing he has the same goals in mind for me is what makes the journey and price worth every minute. Thank you Dr Shelton, you’re a hero in my book!!
I love his staff too, they’re kind and helpful and do all they can to see you have good care as well.

J.W.

Oral surgery isn't something anyone looks forward to but my experience with the very capable Dr. Shelton and his wonderful staff was the exception. Every step of the procedure he undertakes is clearly explained and he listens to his patient's questions and concerns. The facility is very clean, tidy and orderly. At the time of your appointment you are seen without much delay which means that they don't overbook appointments

I am very pleased with the treatment I received and recommend Dr. Shelton & staff without any reservations.

Larry S.

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