Physician, Dentist Collaboration Needed for Treatment of Osteoporosis

Physicians and dentists should collaborate to improve early detection and treatment of patients who have or may develop osteoporosis, say researchers in the cover story of the May issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The authors of the article, "Osteoporosis and Its Implications for Dental Patients," reviewed the medical and dental literature to examine osteoporosis' effect on public health in the United States. They also assessed the implications of providing dental care to people who have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

According to the authors, the literature indicated that osteoporosis and related fractures are more common than coronary disease, stroke and breast cancer. Fractures resulting from osteoporosis can affect a patient's quality of life, as well as result in functional impairment and increased health care cost and mortality.

Their literature search also revealed that medical management of osteoporosis includes diet control, weight-bearing exercise, discontinuation of tobacco and alcohol intake, and use of medications — including selective estrogen receptor modulators, calcitonin, anabolic agents and bisphosphonates — that have been associated with the development of osteonecrosis of the jaw.

The authors determined that oral health maintenance is important in patients with osteoporosis, and that changes to bisphosphonate therapy or other medical treatment should be made only after consultation with the patient's physician. "Dentists need to understand osteoporosis, its treatments and its complications to provide adequate care," write the authors.

All health care professionals involved in the care of all dental patients, particularly patients who are taking oral bisphosphonates, should discuss patient care decisions with the patient's physician, conclude the authors.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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

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