What is Osteonecrosis of the Jaw?

jawboneHave you ever heard of osteonecrosis? It sounds a lot like osteoporosis, and they are sort of similar, but they aren’t exactly the same. They both have to do with bones. Osteonecrosis of the jaw bone can be a serious issue and it can affect your dentition. You usually find out you have osteonecrosis when you have a tooth extracted. Osteonecrosis, of course, isn’t something you worry about every day as you might worry about keeping your teeth white or cavity free, but as they say “knowledge is power.” The more you know about your health, the better. So what exactly is osteronecrosis of the jaw?  

Q And A:

Q: Are osteonecrosis and osteoporosis the same?

A: No. Osteoporosis is a condition that strikes mainly older women. As some women age they lose bone mass resulting in brittle bones. Osteonecrosis is when bone actually dies.

Q: Why does bone die?

A: Bones need blood flow to survive just as your heart does. If you are in a serious accident and lose too much blood you die. If your bones are deprived of blood flow they can die too. Osteonecrosis of the jaw means areas of your jawbone are dead due to lack of a sufficient blood supply.

Q: Am I at risk for osteonecrosis?

A: Research indicates that taking certain drugs put people at risk for osteonecrosis. Those drugs include certain anticancer drugs, certain drugs for osteoporosis, and glucocorticoids. Also, people who take frequent high doses of bisphosphonates for long periods of time coupled with having diabetes, periodontal disease, poor oral hygiene, chronic inflammation, dentures that fit poorly, or who have had a dental extraction or oral surgery are also at risk.

Q: Is there treatment for this condition?

A:  There are treatments to help prevent this condition from developing for those at risk. Such treatments include antibiotics, surgery, teriparatide, bone marrow stem cell transplants, and laser therapy.

About your Des Moines Dentist

The Gateway Dental Group provides comprehensive dental treatments including general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Burds also has extensive experience helping his patients suffering from sleep disorders obtain restful sleep via oral appliance therapy. You can contact Dr. Stephen J. Burds office at 515-442-5659. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.