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More Dental Visits Recommended for Older Women

The battle against plaque, tooth decay and gum disease might be more difficult for women after menopause, according to researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic, who recommend that after menopause women should see a dentist for cleanings up to four times per year.

Scientists studied the dental status of 28 postmenopausal women with normal bones and 28 who were taking bisphosphonates therapies for osteoporosis for two years or longer. The women, between the ages of 51 and 80, received CT scans of their jaws and a complete periodontal check for dental plaque, bleeding and bone loss. Participants followed oral ADA guidelines for brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year.

Researchers found that both groups had high levels of dental plaque that could raise the risk of bone loss in the jawbone or reverse bone mass gained through medication therapies. After menopause, women at risk for osteoporosis are also at risk for gum disease (periodontal disease), which affects bone that anchors the teeth. Over time, dental plaque that accumulates on teeth can lead to periodontal disease.

Bone disease and gum disease are different diseases, researchers stressed. Women taking bisphosphonates need also to remove dental plaque to keep their jawbones strong and healthy.

Ask your dentist for advice on brushing, flossing, healthy diet and dental visits. He or she will be able to recommend an oral care regimen that’s appropriate for your needs and health status.

For details on the ADA’s recommendations for oral hygiene, visit ADA.org (http://www.ada.org/2624.aspx).

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

04/12/2011

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