Osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, is a condition that affects the bones. This disease weakens and cause brittle bones, leading to increase in bone fragility and a fracture risk. Both men and women are at risk of developing osteoporosis, even though, osteoporosis affects women more than men. It is equally important for both genders to take steps to prevent osteoporosis.
Regrettably, there are no obvious signs and symptoms that indicate osteoporosis, unless a bone density test is being carried out following a bone fracture sustained by a simple fall. A simple fall does not usually cause a fracture for an individual with no osteoporosis.
Believe it or not, osteoporosis has a direct connection with your overall dental health! Based on clinical and radiographic examination, as well as your medical history, your dentist may be the first to identify the first stages of osteoporosis.
The signs detected that may lead to the diagnosis of osteoporosis include:
- Bone loss in the jaw and teeth.
- This is may be a reflection of bone loss in other parts of the body, possibly indicating osteoporosis.
- Poor fitting and/ or loose dentures.
- This could be due to bone resorption; where the jaw bones “melt away” and are not able to hold the dentures in a proper position.
- Loss of teeth and increased teeth mobility.
- Where there is minimal or no bone support of the teeth, teeth will shake.
- Periodontal (gum) disease.
- This is one of the contributing factors of bone loss. Further investigations of periodontal disease may be able to provide an indication leading to the underlying disease.
Besides regular visits to the dentist, leading a healthy lifestyle can help maintain good bone health (to counter further loss of bone):
- Maintain a high calcium diet that includes dairy products (low-fat milk, cheese, yoghurt), leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale), soy products and fish (sardines).
- Include foods rich in Vitamin D like tuna and salmon, mushrooms, and egg yolks in your diet as vitamin D helps the bone to absorb the calcium intake from the foods. Vitamin D is also produced when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. However, it is prudent to limit exposure of skin to sunlight as UV radiation is a carcinogen responsible for skin cancers and deaths due to metastatic melanoma.
- Reduce / quit smoking since smoking will affect the health of the bone. Smokers lose bone at faster rates than non-smokers and hence have higher chances of sustaining fractures.
- Reduce caffeine / alcohol intake as it will decrease intake of calcium.
- Exercise regularly, at least thrice a week and 30 – 45 minutes per session. Exercise is beneficial in strengthening bones.
If your dentist suspects that you have osteoporosis, do make arrangements to see Endocrinologist (doctor who specializes in metabolic disorders) soon. Early detection is vital on managing both your overall and dental health.