General Information about Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis and low bone mass can affect a person’s dental health as well as a consideration for people interested in dental implants.
Today, osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 25 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. It is estimated that in the US, 7 to 8 million individuals already have the disease and 17 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis and the fractures it causes. Known as “the silent thief,” osteoporosis progresses without symptoms or pain until bones start to break, generally in the hip, spine, or wrist.
Osteoporosis is a complex disease and not all of its causes are known. However, when certain risk factors are present, your likelihood of developing osteoporosis is increased. Therefore, it is important for you to determine your risk for developing osteoporosis and take action to prevent it now.
Osteoporosis is preventable if bone loss is detected early.
If you already have osteoporosis, you can live actively and comfortably by seeking proper medical care and making some adjustments to your lifestyle. Your physician may prescribe a diet rich in calcium, a regular program of weight-bearing exercise, and medical treatment.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation is the Nation’s leading source for patient and health care professionals seeking up-to-date, medically sound information and educational materials on the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mineral density (bone mass) which makes bone more porous and subsequently much weaker. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks.
A lifelong process in which old bone is removed and new bone is laid down.
Common Issues About Osteoporosis
- Fractures typically in hip, spine, or wrist
- Fractures sometimes lead to death
- Women 5X greater risk than men
- Men can also suffer from osteoporosis
- Bone is a living, growing calcified tissue
- Bone is constantly renewed through a process in which old bone is taken away and replaced with new bone
- Early in life, more bone tissue is added than taken away
- Maximum bone density & strength occurs at age 25 to 35
- After age 35, old bone is is removed faster than it is replaced
- Menopause – increased bone loss due to reduced estrogen production
- Excess bone loss – more fragile bone
- Once bone is lost, it is very difficult to replace.
Dental Implants and Osteoporosis
Dr. J. Crystal Baxter, in the Academy of Osseointegration newsletter, states that patients with osteoporosis can be successfully treated with dental implants. “With careful monitoring and some additional healing time, these patients can be treated as well as patients without the disease. I believe that these women are prime candidates for implant treatment as they will most likely experience more bone loss than an unaffected subject when teeth are removed. The successful integration of healthy implants prevents and reduces future bone resorption.”
Info from Academy News, Volume 9, Number 2, 1998, Page 8 and 9.
Are You At Risk?
Increased Risk Factors:
- Thin, small-boned frame
- Broken bones, stooped posture in older family members, especially women
- Early estrogen deficiency in women who experience menopause before age 45
- Advanced age
- Diet low in calcium
- Inactive lifestyle with little exercise
- Caucasian and Asian women at highest risk
- African-American and Hispanic women at lower, but significant risk
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Prolonged use of glucocorticosteroids, some anti-inflammatory medications, excessive thyroid hormone and some anti-seizure medications
Proper nutrition and exercise throughout life can dramatically decrease a person’s risk of suffering osteoporosis.
- Most serious consequence of osteoporosis
- Results in loss of mobility
- Can necessitate nursing home placement
- 50,000 die per year due to complications
Effect on Lifestyle
- Activities of daily living more difficult
- Increased pain
- Increased anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Stooped posture
- Loss of height
- Affects 25 million Americans
- 80% of those affected are women
- Leads to 1.5 million fractures each year
- 1/3 of women > 50 will suffer vertebral fracture
- 300,000 hip fractures each year due to osteoporosis
- Vitamin D
- Avoid falls and injuries
- Estrogen therapy
Recommended Calcium Intake
The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides up to date information describing recommended calcium intakes.
Calcium Rich Foods
- Low-fat milk
- Wide variety of supplements available
- Discuss choice with your doctor
- Be sure it is easily absorbed by the body
- Determine elemental calcium in supplement
- Lactose Intolerance: Difficulty digesting milk due to lack of enzyme lactase.
- Lactase breaks down milk sugar lactase
- Treat lactose-containing foods with commercial preparation of lactase
- Purchase pretreated products
- Plays important role in calcium absorption
- Allows calcium to leave intestine and enter bloodstream
- Synthesized in skin through exposure to sunlight
- Vitamin D production decreases in elderly and housebound people
- 400 IU to 800 IU (Addl doses not recommended)
- Weight-bearing exercises
- Benefits last only as long as program is maintained
- Most people with osteoporosis SHOULD exercise
- Secure rugs to floor
- Avoid throw rugs that slip
- Minimize clutter in house
- Remove loose wires/cords
- Avoid wax floors
- Wear sturdy, low-heeled shoes
- Keep halls, stairs well lighted
- Use nightlights
- Grab bars in bathroom
- Non-skid tape in shower/tub
- Wear seat belts in car
- Adjust car seat properly
- Avoid medications that cause dizziness
The National Osteoporosis Foundation maintains up-to-date information about the disease and its treatment. Be sure to visit their site for the most accurate and current information. The purpose of this page is to create an awareness of osteoporosis. Medical action in each individual case should be determined with professional advice directed toward the individual’s particular circumstances and condition.