I Have Osteoporosis…Are Dental Implants An Option?
Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that leads to a decreased density of bone and subsequent increase in risk of fracture. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.
Osteoporosis affects millions of people all over the world. It affects men and women of all races. Women are 4x more likely to develop osteoporosis. Research has shown that post-menopausal white and Asian women are at highest risk. Medications, healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss and strengthen already weak bones. There is recent research showing that women who drink wine in moderation tend to have higher bone density than those who abstain from alcohol.
How Do I Know If Dental Implants Are An Option?
The first step is to get your osteoporosis under control and limit the further effects of the disease. This includes seeing a physician to prescribe the proper medications, diet, and exercise routine. The next step is to see your implant dentist for a full evaluation. This evaluation will include your overall health, your oral health, as well as the degree of your osteoporosis.
Some considerations before having dental implants placed include:
-State Of Oral Health. A major factor in the failure of dental implants is the presence of periodontal disease. With a patient already being compromised with osteoporosis this becomes doubly important that the patient be periodontal disease free.
-Strength, Density, And Volume Of Bone Tissue. You need to have some good quality bone left to have an implant last, healing will be prolonged, so volume of bone is extremely important.
-Medications. This includes medications you are taking for osteoporosis as well as other medications which could counteract those medications. Bisphosphanates have been long known to keep the body from reabsorbing bone tissue, but they also appear to affect your ability to heal after a dental implant procedure. Biphosphonates can increase the risk of biphosphonate-induced osteonecrosis of the jaw (also called BONJ). When BONJ occurs, the bone tissue actually begins to die due to inadequate blood supply.
-Is The Patient A Smoker? Smoking has long been a failure factor in dental implants as well as bone loss. Nicotine is a vaso constrictor so blood supply to the bones in the jaw can be compromised.
-Presence Of Systemic Disease. This can include a decreased immune system or diabetes. Good health is important for good healing.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, dental implants may still be an option. If osteoporosis has affected other parts of your body, it might not necessarily have caused decrease in jawbone mass or breakdown of these tissues. Recent research (International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Implants, Vol 21: 349) has shown a lowered success rate in patients with osteoporosis but the difference was less than 2%. The general success rate for dental implants is about 97% whereas the success rate in this limited study was 95%. The study also showed that bone grafting was successful as well.
Dental implants have long been the treatment of choice for tooth loss. For those who have been told it is not an option the effects can be devastating. The recent research gives hope to those who previously were told that it was not an option. Each individual needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis taking all factors into account before delving into placement of dental implants. If you are missing teeth or about to lose them, contact your dentist for a dental implant evaluation.