Osteoporosis and Periodontitis in Postmenopausal Women

How Low Bone Mineral Density Affects Dental Health

Dentist's chair and tools with x-ray picture in the backgroundPostmenopausal women who have lowered bone mineral density as a result of osteoporosis or osteopenia may have a heightened risk of certain dental problems, according to the results of a recent study.

Researchers in Brazil set out to understand whether or not the bone mineral density of postmenopausal women influences the progression of periodontitis. They were also interested in the potential effects of taking osteoporosis medications, and of tooth loss, on this progression. The study, “Osteoporosis/osteopenia as an independent factor associated with periodontitis in postmenopausal women: a case-control study,” was published in September 2012 online ahead of print in Osteoporosis International.

The study authors examined data on 521 postmenopausal women in Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil. All of the women were aged 50 or older. In addition to information about the women’s health conditions, researchers gathered data on the participants’ lifestyle habits, the medications they took, and their sociodemographic characteristics.

All of the study participants underwent a full examination for periodontitis. Additionally, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to measure the women’s bone mineral density. Researchers used this data to calculate the association between periodontitis and osteoporosis/osteopenia.

The study findings demonstrated that women with osteoporosis or osteopenia were 2 times as likely as women with normal bone mineral density to also have periodontitis. These findings held after the researchers controlled for sociodemographic and behavioral factors (such as age, income, smoking habits, and last dental office visit). Additionally, the results showed a stronger association between periodontitis and osteoporosis/osteopenia in women who were not taking medications for osteoporosis, and in women with a higher number of remaining teeth (10 or more).

The study authors conclude that their findings demonstrate an association between bone mineral density and periodontitis in postmenopausal women, particularly in women with more remaining teeth, and those who are not taking osteoporosis medications.

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