One of the health challenges faced by older people, especially women, is that of osteoporosis. The most common symptoms of this disease are brittle bones and lower bone density. The main contributing factors in osteoporosis are menopause, aging and a lack of calcium and vitamin D in the diet. Its symptoms combine to create a stereotype of senior citizens who fall and easily break their hips, but this disease can also have an effect on a different aspect of someone’s health: their dental well-being. It’s predicted that by 2020, over half the people over 50 will be affected by osteoporosis, so it’s worth a concerned look toward prevention and treatment.
Effects of Osteoporosis on Dental and Oral Health
This disease is one that affects all the bones in the body, making them weaker and much more likely to break. While this obviously has a negative effect on general health and well-being, it’s also directly tied to dental and oral health. The main connecting point for all the teeth in your mouth is your jawbone, which osteoporosis can damage. This damage can be a trigger for dental issues and other oral health problems, including losing or migrating teeth and periodontal disease.
These dental problems tied to osteoporosis are much more common in women than in men. This includes women who have already begun menopause unless they’re on a regular hormone therapy program. Even people who have no teeth and who wear no dentures can still be affected by bone loss in the jawbone.
Likely Dental Problems Due to Osteoporosis
The general bone weakness caused by osteoporosis, as well as the loss of bone material, can affect the ridges in the jaw that hold dentures in place. This can result in poorly fitting dentures and eventually can cause a need for a complete denture plate replacement.
For patients who still have teeth, osteoporosis can weaken the part of the jawbone that’s connected to the teeth. The weakening in this bone is likely to cause tooth loss or movement, endangering proper tooth alignment. This can also be a major problem for patients who have dental implants. If the jawbone around the implants begins to deteriorate, it can loosen them, resulting in a complete implant loss in the worst cases. Once this happens, new implants are often impossible to install because of the unstable foundation the damaged jawbone creates.
Additional calcium is the answer to decreasing your chances of developing osteoporosis, but not all calcium affects the body the same way. Calcium supplements in the form of pills were often prescribed in the past, but some researchers are finding they may increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Most doctors are now advising people to get the majority of their daily calcium requirements in the food they eat. This includes the expected dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese but also some unexpected nondairy foods – sardines, canned salmon, almonds, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, rhubarb and figs are all high in calcium. In addition, bone-strengthening exercises such as walking and dancing can be an important addition to your daily routine.
While broken bones are a real danger as you age, it’s important to pay attention to how osteoporosis affects your dental health as well. Don’t delay or postpone any needed dental treatments. Keep up your healthy lifestyle habits, including regular cleaning and examination appointments with your dental professional.
Let Us Help You Keep Those Teeth and Bones Healthy!
Whether you’re in need of some help strengthening the bones in your mouth or you’re ready to have some teeth replaced, only the most skilled Houston prosthodontists will do. Maple Leaf Dental can turn back time, replacing your damaged teeth with artificial ones that even your mother won’t notice. Call us at (281) 497-5558 or email us to get started. Your smile won’t wait forever!
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