Signs of Osteoporosis Can Show Up in a Routine Dental Exam!
Markers of our health can show up in unexpected places on our bodies, like our fingernails, eyes, and even our mouths. In fact, the mouth can be an impressive looking glass into what’s going on inside the body. It offers red flags for everything from diabetes to a risk of heart disease. But did you know that a routine dental exam can also uncover signs of osteoporosis?
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone density disorder, causing bones to lose mass and become brittle. This can cause health problems such as the risk of fractures and breaking. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it’s most common in women over 50. Genetics can play a role in your risk for osteoporosis, as can calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, smoking, and other factors. But early and sometimes even advanced symptoms can be hard to detect. Surprisingly, your dentist is often the first to glimpse signs of osteoporosis. They see signs of the disorder through your jaw and the bone surrounding the teeth.
What Can You Do?
A routine but comprehensive dental exam, including x-rays, can uncover bone density loss in the mouth. Sometimes this happens simply through comparison of dental records and images. Dentists use these comparisons to notice a difference in the bone mass. Other times, typically in more advanced stages of osteoporosis, complaints of loose teeth or badly-fitting dentures can be the first clue, as bone begins to become porous and compact, shrinking away from the gum line and reducing support for the teeth. If your dentist suspects osteoporosis, he or she will often take a brief medical history, then refer you to your primary care physician for testing and diagnosis.
You can reduce your risk for developing osteoporosis by making sure your calcium and vitamin D levels are in the normal range, decreasing alcohol and caffeine consumption, increasing exercise, and quitting smoking.
Questions? Call Reno Dental Associates at 775-786-3400 or contact our doctors directors directly.