Osteoporosis may increase the damage that gum (periodontal) disease can do to bone supporting the teeth. Osteoporosis primarily weakens bone in the hips, spine, and wrists, increasing the risk of fractures. However, the disease can also damage the bone to which teeth attach. Certain dental x-rays may actually show the first signs of osteoporosis.
Gum (periodontal) disease
- It’s a bacterial infection. A germ-infested film forms on the teeth (plaque). Over time, if not removed with thorough daily brushing and flossing, the film begins to harden forming a gritty deposit on the teeth (calculus / tartar). While plaque can be removed with oral hygiene, calculus needs to be scrapped off by dental professionals.
- The combination of a bacterial infection with the physical irritation caused by calculus creates inflammation of the gums and destruction of the underlying bone. And as that progresses, the teeth become increasingly “wobbly” as the supporting bone erodes away.
- By weakening the bone where teeth attach, osteoporosis can accelerate and increase the damage that gum disease can create.
- Preventing gum disease is particularly important, especially if you are at increased risk for osteoporosis (older adults, postmenopausal women, family history, use of steroid medication for such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, slight stature, smokers).
This information is a public service of the Dental Lifeline Network. The content is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for the medical advice of one’s health care provider.