Osteoporosis affects more than 10 million Americans. While it can strike anyone at any age, it is especially common among women aged 50 and older. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it means that your bones are weaker and more prone to fracture. In addition to those individuals already diagnosed with osteoporosis, as many as 34 million Americans have low bone density, the first step on the road to osteoporosis.
Many people are not diagnosed with osteoporosis until they suffer a fracture—or come to our office. Even though we often associate it with hip fractures, osteoporosis can affect all bones of the body, including the jaw and the teeth. And because you probably visit our office more often than you do your general physician, we may be the first to spot low bone density or osteoporosis.
Some early signs of low bone density include
loose or missing teeth
bone loss in the jaw or around the teeth
loose or ill-fitting dentures
Even if you have not experienced any of those conditions, low bone density may show up on a routine dental x-ray, an effective tool to distinguish people with osteoporosis from those with normal bone density. By comparing dental x-rays from one year to the next, we often can identify decreases in bone density.
You can help prevent low bone density by
including Vitamin D and calcium (either from food or supplements) in your diet
performing weight-bearing exercises
avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption
Remember that dairy products are not the only sources of calcium in food. Broccoli, almonds, beans, salmon and leafy dark greens also contain good amounts of calcium.
There are many reasons to visit our office frequently for checkups and cleanings. Knowing that we are in a position to spot low bone density before anyone else can be one more reason to see us on a regular basis. And if you experience loose teeth or dentures, be sure to call us for an appointment, so that we can not only treat your problem but also identify its cause.