More than 50 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis, a serious disease that causes the bones to lose density and become weak. Osteoporosis commonly affects the hips, spine, and wrists, but there’s another critically important bone that can be affected by this disease: your jaw.
You’re probably already aware of the importance of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). After all, you use it every day for chewing, talking, and more. But the jaw bones themselves are just as important as the TMJ, as they support your teeth and play an important role in keeping your mouth healthy. And if you have osteoporosis, your jaw bones – and your teeth – could suffer serious damage.
Dental Health, TMJ, and Bone Loss
Osteoporosis can wreak havoc on your dental health. Studies have found that bone loss in the jaw from osteoporosis is linked to additional tooth loss. In fact, women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to have tooth loss than those without the condition. There’s also evidence that bone loss in the jaw leads to gum disease, which can be serious and result in infections and tooth loss.
In addition to these serious dental issues, people with a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may find that bone loss due to osteoporosis makes their symptoms more severe. Jaw pain, headaches, ear aches, and back and neck pain are just a few of the ways that a damaged jaw may present itself. And, unfortunately, once erosion of the jaw bone occurs, there is no way to recover the lost bone.
How to Protect Your Bones and Jaw from Osteoporosis
Medical professionals agree that bone density tests should be done on those at risk of osteoporosis. If the test results show signs of osteoporosis, treatment options must be discussed. Treatment may include medications and/or lifestyle changes such as increasing calcium and vitamin D intake, quitting smoking and eating healthier.
The biggest problem is that many people don’t realize they have osteoporosis until bone loss has already occurred. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “about 54 million Americans already have osteoporosis or low bone mass (osteopenia), which puts them at risk for osteoporosis.” One of the best ways to avoid this is to visit your doctor for regular checkups – and to see your dentist twice a year, as recommended. In fact, your dentist may see bone loss or signs of osteoporosis on your dental x-ray – another great reason to get the checkups you need.
Finally, if you find that you have symptoms of TMD, don’t ignore them. Many people suffer from TMD symptoms for years without seeing a medical professional. In that time, jaw damage can become severe, and pain can be interfering with life. In addition, you could be missing an opportunity to find out important information about the health of your jaw and bone health in general.
Your bones – and your jaw – are far too important to neglect! If you have jaw pain, headaches, or other symptoms of TMD, please contact MedCenter TMJ today.