Oral Health For Older Adults and Osteoporosis
A majority of osteoporosis patients are treated with a group of prescription drugs called "oral bisphosphonates." Examples include:
- alendronate (Fosamax, Merck & Co., Whitehouse Station, N.J.)
- risedronate (Actonel, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati)
- ibandronate (Boniva, Roche, Nutley, N.J.).
One of the potential side effects of these drugs is jaw complications, specifically osteonecrosis of the jaws (ONJ). ONJ is not common; however it is a potentially serious condition that can cause severe destruction of the jawbones. The true risk posed by oral bisphosphonates remains uncertain, but researchers agree that it appears to be very small.
The MDA suggests telling your dentist to update your health history after being prescribed an oral bisphosphonate. Another reason your dentist needs to know about your prescription is because some dental procedures, such as extractions, may increase your risk of developing ONJ. The MDA also recommends regular dental visits and maintaining excellent oral hygiene to avoid this significant complication.
The American Dental Association also has information on osteoporosis medications and oral health.
Back to the Older Adults page.