People say the eyes are the window to the soul. In actuality – it’s actually the mouth that says so much more about a person’s state of being. The mouth is the gateway to your overall health and is very indicative of problems that will affect your well-being in the future.
Bone density loss, or osteoporosis affects over 53 million people in the United States, and that number is rapidly rising. Activity level, alcohol intake, medications, low sex hormones, and of course – lack of Vitamin D – are all risk factors for bone disease. But one link that many tend to overlook is the mouth-body connection. In many cases, dentists are the first doctor to diagnose osteoporosis – long before the disease has shown other outward symptoms. According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), dental X-rays work swimmingly as a screening tool for osteoporosis – shedding light on the signs of abnormal bone density.
Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those with good bone health. The alveolar process – the section of the jaw that keeps our teeth intact, is vulnerable to loss of bone mineral density. As the health of the alveolar process degrades, periodontitis (infection of the gums), as well as tooth loss can follow. With one of the speediest bone turnover rates in the entire human body, the mandibular alveolar process is often the first bone to show signs of damage. Low bone density in the jaw brought on by osteoporosis may also lead to subsequent dental issues.
Hormone imbalances affect several of the systems within the body, and can be directly correlated to both oral health and the potential for osteoporosis. Just as osteoporosis is often thought of as a female disease, periodontal woes also tend to target women. Pregnancy, menopause, and the menstrual cycle all leave hormones off kilter; the decline in estrogen that occurs during menopause puts women at risk for both osteoporosis, and inflammation of the gum tissue.
Scientists are working around the clock to fully comprehend the link between osteoporosis and oral health. In the meantime, trying to adhere to a healthy lifestyle can be very beneficial in warding off bone disease and maintaining optimum oral health. You are what you eat; eating a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D is vital. According to Delta Dental, women need around 1,200mg of calcium per day, men need 800mg, and 1,500mg are recommended for anyone over the age of 65.
Should your dentist determine that there is bone loss, they’ll most likely recommend an intensive, deep-cleaning known as “scaling”. Essentially, this is a process to eradicate plaque and tartar above and below the gumline. Be sure you are visiting your dentist every six months (or four if recommended) for regularly scheduled check-ups. The knowledgeable staff at Dedicated Dental will alert you if you show early signs of osteoporosis, and work with you to develop a plan to put you on the path to better oral and overall health. For more information, call 702-566-5509.