Dentists May Be the First to Spot Osteoporosis

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(iVillage Total Health) - Women concerned about the onset of osteoporosis, a bone disease that primarily affects menopausal women, should probably keep regular dental appointments as they age.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), your dentist may be the first to spot signs of bone loss from osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones lose mass and density. Though it may affect either gender, it typically impacts women during and after menopause. These women have lower estrogen levels which is essential for bone mass and retention. Low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals also contribute to weakening of the bones.

Dental X-rays taken over time can show the gradual erosion of the bones supporting the teeth and in the jaw. The bone loss can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, dentures that no longer fit properly and other mouth disorders.

According to the AGD, recent studies have shown a connection between osteoporosis and periodontal disease and are testing various drugs to prevent tooth loss. These include topical solutions, anti-inflammatory drugs and mouth rinses.

"This is a significant finding for women, since osteoporosis affects many more women than men," AGD spokesperson Dr. Susan Sup-Barnes, said in a press release. "Hopefully, this study will influence more women to visit their dentist on a regular basis for the health of both their teeth and bones."

She said the new drug treatments will help dentists detect osteoporosis and provide early treatment.

Copyright 2007 iVillage Total Health.

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