When you see an older person walking somewhat bent forward and leaning on a cane, you might think that person has osteoporosis. Bones loss makes the bones weak to a point where they can fracture easily. Bone fractures can cause deformity and curvature of the bones. This disease affects nearly 40 million people who have osteoporosis or are at risk with low bone mass. Unfortunately, the main class of drugs used to treat osteoporosis has serious potential side effects including bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw, or BRONJ. Are there alternative medications? Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. Jessica Johnson,will answer that question..
Side Effects of Bisphosphonates
Bisphosphonates effectively treat osteoporosis and the effects can last several years after treatment. They are suspected contributors to several side effects and are a known factor in BRONJ. Patients taking the medication feel pain and swelling in the gum tissue. Teeth can become loose. Bone becomes exposed. When the exposed bone doesn’t heal, it is considered dead and is diagnosed as BRONJ.
Alternative Osteoporosis Treatments
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new osteoporosis medication called denosumab. This drug is intended for women with a high risk of bone fractures. Although not a bisphosphonate, denosumab suppresses turnover of bone so the risk factor for BRONJ is the same for both drugs.
Calcitonin-salmon is available to women who are five years beyond menopause. The synthetic version of calcitonin, a hormone, treats osteoporosis by increasing bone density. The National Institute of Health lists side effects such as sinus pain, upset stomach, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. The list does not include BRONJ.
A healthy diet, regular weight-bearing exercise, and stress management help with osteoporosis. They are not as effective as the medications yet they have beneficial side effects of contributing to good overall health. Key vitamins and minerals indicated for bone health include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorus, and magnesium. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds produces a desired alkaline diet. Pairing healthy eating habits with a brisk walk and a yoga class will be good for the bones, the body, and the soul.
BRONJ and Dental Care
Consult your general physician about options for treating osteoporosis. If you decide to take bisphosphonates, avoid dental surgery if possible, as it accounts for the majority of cases of BRONJ. If you develop BRONJ or would like a dental checkup, make an appointment with our 50266 general dentist, Dr. Johnson by calling (515) 223-9764.