Osteoporosis Medications Linked to Jaw Bone Disease

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

woman holding tooth model
Westend61/Getty Images

Certain osteoporosis medications, called bisphosphonates, have possibly been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw, a rare and serious disease that can cause rigorous destruction of the jawbone. Common oral bisphosphonates taken for osteoporosis are Fosomax, Boniva, Actonel, Didronel and Skelid. Common bisphosphonates given intravenously for osteoporosis are Bonefos, Aredia and Zometa.

Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease that affects millions of people.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that osteoporosis is a health threat for 55% of people ages 50 and older or about 44 million Americans. 80% of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis are women. According to The National Osteoporosis Foundation, women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.

Exercise and proper nutrition for young women can help build strong bone mass for the future.

Most people believe that osteoporosis only occurs in elderly people, but osteoporosis can occur at any age and does not discriminate against race. Osteoporosis is a very serious disease that is responsible for more than 1.5 million bone fractures every year.

According to the American Dental Association, osteonecrosis of the jaw linked with osteoporosis medications has mainly been seen in cancer patients who are receiving the bisphosphonates intravenously. In fact, 94% of the cases reported are linked to intravenously administered bisphosphonates while only 6% are linked with the oral medications.

Symptoms of osteonecrosis of the jaw can include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Pain in the Jaw
  • Swelling
  • Exposed Bone
  • Reoccurring Infection

While osteonecrosis of the jaw associated with bisphosphonates is serious, it is also rare. Osteoporosis is a very serious disease and medications taken for osteoporosis have proven benefits with numerous studies showing that these medications do reduce bone loss.

If you are taking oral bisphosphonates:

  • Do not stop taking these medications without speaking with your doctor.
  • Be sure to tell your dentist that you are taking oral bisphosphonates so your medical history can be updated.
  • Read these guidelines from the American Dental Association.

Continue Reading