Osteoporosis and Dental Implants: What You Should Know
There are many reasons why people visit the dentist, including tooth decay, tooth loss, and misalignment, among other reasons. For patients who need advanced dental care beyond a simple cavity filling or teeth cleaning, many dentists will recommend dental implants.
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are installed where a root has been removed. They provide a sturdy base for replacement teeth, such as crowns, bridges, and dentures, to be adhered in the space above the implant. This will fill in the gap where a tooth once was, improving the appearance of a patient’s smile as well as restoring full functionality of their teeth.
Because of their durability and sturdiness, dental implants are a great option for dental patients who need to replace a tooth. However, dental implantation is an invasive procedure that requires entry into the jawbone to make sure the implant is deep enough to hold firm. For this reason, dental implantation may not be easy or safe for every patient, especially for those with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by loss of bone mass and decreased bone density. The term translates to “porous bone,” referring to the increased porosity and therefore decreased density of bones. This means that a patient with osteoporosis is either losing too much bone mass, making too little, or a combination of both, causing them to be increasingly susceptible to broken bones.
How does osteoporosis affect jaw and tooth health?
Though the effects of osteoporosis are easiest to see in larger bones such as those within the legs and arms, it can affect the jaw and teeth as well. In fact, loose teeth and ill-fitting dentures can be one of the first signs that a jawbone is degrading due to developing osteoporosis. As the disease advances, patients may start to lose teeth entirely and even gradually lose some facilities like ease of chewing and speaking.
The presence of osteoporosis in a patient can negatively affect the safety levels of certain dental procedures, including dental implants, depending on a variety of factors.
- Bone density. It may not be safe for dentists to install dental implants on a patient with osteoporosis as increased porosity in the jawbone may prevent the implants from effectively taking root.
- Drugs associated with osteoporosis. Patients with osteoporosis are at increased risk of complications during oral surgery due to their regular use of bisphosphonates, a common drug category for osteoporosis treatment.
- Risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw. Osteonecrosis refers to the death of bone tissue caused by interrupted blood supply, causing extreme pain in the afflicted area. Dental procedures can put osteoporosis patients at risk of this condition.
Can osteoporosis patients still receive dental implants?
The risk of complications for a dental patient with osteoporosis can increase or decrease depending on the patient’s dental and general health habits as well as the advancement of their osteoporosis. In some cases, dental implantation can still be performed safely. If you think you may be showing signs of osteoporosis in your jaw and teeth, contact your dentist immediately.