Women who are at risk for osteoporosis may also be at risk for periodontitis, a dental disease of the supporting structures in the mouth. A new comparison study by the Cleveland Clinic and the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that the recommended twice-yearly checkups are not enough for older women.
Dental Care and Bone Strength
What started as a study focused on the effects on certain bisphosphonate therapies on the jawbone soon revealed new findings related specifically to women dealing with menopause. Bisphosphonate therapy is typically administered to osteoporosis patients to help reduce bone loss. The research compared a group of 28 women who had been on bisphosphonate therapies at least 2 years with another group of 28 postmenopausal women who had normal bone structure. All study participants were between the ages of 51 and 80, and all had followed the recommended dental health regimen of twice-yearly dental checkups as well as flossing regularly and brushing twice a day.
All subjects were checked for signs of periodontal problems like bleeding gums, plaque buildup and loss of bone structure or gum attachment. They also got conebeam CT scans of their jaws.
Bone strength appeared similar in both groups, but researchers also noticed abnormally high levels of dental plaque in both categories, which could endanger the bone structure of the jaws and teeth. The study concluded that menopausal and postmenopausal women should take extra precautions in caring for their teeth to avoid exacerbated dental health problems that could put their bone structure at risk.
Plaque Buildup and Gum Disease
Gum disease, or the weakening of supporting bone structures in the mouth, can be caused by excess plaque on the surface of the teeth. Without careful attention to dental hygiene, plaque can build up to the point where bacteria begins to eat away at the plaque, causing acidic reactions that break down the supporting structures. Plaque buildup occurred for the study participants even while taking good care of their teeth, which led to the understanding that menopausal bone issues could directly affect it.
Prevention is always cheaper than treatment, so if you want to avoid potential gum disease and weakened bone structure, visit your dentist at least twice a year (or more, if you’re postmenopausal, according to the study). Additionally, do your part at home by brushing, flossing and swishing with mouthwash on a regular basis.