Postmenopausal women urged to increase yearly dental checkups

March 11th, 2011 - 6:42 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 11 (ANI): Here’s a new health message for postmenopausal women - they need to see their dentist at least four times a year and not twice as previously thought.

Leena Palomo, from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, and Maria Clarinda Beunocamino-Francisco from the Cleveland Clinic set out to study the long-term effects of bisphosphonate therapies on the jawbone, but came up with this new finding that impacts all women after undergoing menopause.

Twenty-eight postmenopausal women with normal bones were compared with 28 women on bisphosphonate therapies for at least two years or more.

The participants (all between the ages of 51 and 80) received conebeam CT scans of their jaws and a complete periodontal check for dental plaque, bleeding, and loss of bone attachment and of the alveolar bone socket.

Both groups of women had followed the recommended American Dental Association oral health standards to brush twice daily, floss and have at least two dental checkups a year.

The findings for bone strength and other markers for osteoporosis were similar for both groups.

The researchers, however, found both groups had increased dental plaque levels, which could endanger the jawbone of normal postmenopausal women and reverse any benefits gained in bone mass.

While women from both groups had similar bone health results and women on the long-term oral bone-strengthening therapies showed no signs of bone death, they had abnormal dental plaque.

Menopausal women at risk for osteoporosis are also at risk for periodontal disease, which affects bone that anchors teeth, said Palomo.

A prior study by her showed that short-term use of bisphosphonates had increased bone density in the jaw.

But over time, if the hard plaque is left on teeth, it triggers the processes for gum disease.

Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is an inflammatory reaction that produces the cytokines protein reaction.

Cytokines act like water runoffs on the side of the hill and erodes the socket that anchors the tooth in place.

Palomo said if that bone loss is not stopped, a woman could potentially lose her teeth.

She added that those cytokines also set in motion the process that weakens bones in osteoporosis.

Palomo said women might need to see the dentist as many as four times a year to control dental plaque by deep periodontal cleanings.

“Women also have to realize that bone disease and gum disease are two separate diseases. The bisphosphonate therapy isn’t enough to keep jawbones strong and healthy,” said Palomo.

The findings have been published in the February issue of Menopause. (ANI)

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