Osteoporosis can affect all the bones in your body, including the jawbone. This is an impressive bone that, along with the temporomandibular joint, can move up and down, side to side as well as back and forth. But if a problem arises that prevents the bone, joint and surrounding muscles from working together in precisely the right way, TMD can be the result.
Keeping your jawbone as healthy as possible is an important step in preventing and alleviating TMD problems. Osteoporosis is one of the biggest concerns for every bone in the body as we age, and it can significantly impact the functioning of the jaw. In fact, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research uses osteoporosis of the jaw as a criteria for determining the category and severity of TMD.
Learn how osteoporosis affects bones and how to strengthen your entire skeletal system.
Understanding Osteoporosis in the Jaw
All bones are living tissue. This tissue is continuously broken down and built back up. Osteoporosis occurs when the tissue begins breaking down faster than it can be repaired. This can cause the bones to weaken and, because they are less dense, they become more brittle.
This digression in tissue repair actually begins much earlier in life than many people realize. Osteoporosis Canada notes that bone loss beginsin a person’s mid-30s. The group most affected is women that are nearing menopause or have already experienced it. On average, women in this group lose 2-3% of their bone each year.
The jaw isn’t the most common area affected by osteoporosis; however, it also isn’t rare. When the jawbone begins to lose density one of the first signs is loose teeth and tooth loss. If tooth loss occurs it can impact alignment and lead to malocclusion, a key contributor to TMJ.
Preventing and Improving Osteoporosis
Although it may seem like osteoporosis is an uphill battle, the actuality is that there are many ways people can protect their bones and improve bone density.
- Work more calcium into your diet. Try to get the following every day:
- Women – 1,200mg
- Men – 800mg
- 65+ – 1,500mg
- Up your intake of Vitamin D.
- Workout with weights several times a week.
- Get out and walk or run for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Discuss medication options with your doctor if you are at an increased risk for a bone fracture.
- Do not take steroids unless directed by your physician.
It’s also important that you schedule regular appointments with a dentist, especially if you are experiencing TMD problems or symptoms. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) has recognized that dental x-rays can be used as a tool to detect osteoporosis in its earliest stages and determine if it is impacting a person’s health.
The team at MedCenter TMJ has helped many patients in the Houston area find relief from TMD by helping them properly diagnosis the cause of the problem. Call us today or go online to schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained TMJ dentists.