A look at dental implants and women with osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones over time, can be devastating to women over many parts of their body — including the jawbone.

The Journal of Oral Implantology published an article in its July issue about a study done to see if bone loss among women with osteoporosis could be managed when dental implants were inserted.

"The most common treatment today for osteoporosis is a class of drugs called biophosphonates," the authors of the article said. "But these drugs can have major complications that already affect weak bones, preventing them from getting blood and thus causing them to die. When this occurs in the jawbone, the complication is known as biophosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw."

The study sought to answer the question of whether a biophosphones-taking patient with osteoporosis is at a greater risk of experiencing this serious complication in the jawbone when receiving implants.

The study followed 24 postmenopausal women who had lost most of their teeth. A dozen had osteoporosis and were taking a biophosphonate, and the other dozen did not have the disease and did not take the drug. Dental surgeons extracted all of the remaining teeth from each of the 24 women and immediately replaced them with dental implants.

They examined them one year later to see whether the implants were working.

"The results were completely successful," the authors said. All of the implants were still in place. There was some bone loss, but it was similar in both groups of patients, and all the women had good contact between the surface of the implants and the bone. The authors found that installing the implants immediately after extracting the teeth produced good results even in patients with osteoporosis.

The authors concluded that by inserting implants soon after removing teeth, it is possible to decrease the risk of serious complications among biophosphonate-taking patients with osteoporosis.

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