Periodontitis and osteoporosis - two distant relatives

Osteoporosis a skeletal disease in which the bones lose stability and break more easily. Bone loss is triggered by a low mineral salt content, low bone density and faulty bone architecture. As bone loss progresses gradually, the condition remains without serious symptoms for a long time. It only becomes noticeable at an advanced stage. Even minor injuries or even everyday strain can lead to bone fractures without adequate trauma. The femur, humerus, forearm, ribs and spine are most frequently affected. Prevention is a top priority in therapy. To strengthen bones in the long term, doctors recommend calcium and vitamin D, a balanced diet and sufficient exercise. Nicotine, alcohol and obesity, on the other hand, rob the human skeleton of its strength. For patients at risk, appropriate medication such as dosed oestrogen supplementation helps to stabilize the bones.

The risk of developing bone loss is almost twice as high in women as in men. Especially after the menopause. The body slows down the production of the sex hormone oestrogen, which helps to protect the bone system, among other things. In addition, the female skeleton is naturally more delicate than the male skeleton. Expressed in figures: From the age of 50, one in two women suffer a bone fracture due to Osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis - more than just a symptom of old age

Bone atrophy is not just a symptom of old age, but a widespread skeletal disease. It is estimated that around 6.3 million people are affected in Germany alone. The risk groups: Women and older patients aged 50 and over. 5.2 million women and 1.1 million men aged 50 and over complain of chronically weakened bones. That makes one in four women and one in 17 men.

The disease itself is asymptomatic. Serious health problems usually only occur after a bone fracture. Acute or chronic pain, often requiring opiates, not only deprives those affected of their mobility and quality of life. Their work performance also suffers. Absenteeism increases and some patients become permanently unable to work. This poses a massive financial risk not only to the employee, but also to the employer.

Osteoporosis and periodontitis - unfamiliar at first glance, familiar at second glance

At first glance, Periodontitis and osteoporosis have little in common. At second glance, however, they are closely related. A scientific study by the Vienna University Clinic for Women and Dentistry confirms the suspicion. 36 menopausal women between the ages of 48 and 76 took part in the study. The study was based on the mineral content of the bones. With a high content of over 80 percent, only a few women, less than 10 percent, suffered from severe periodontitis. However, if the mineral content was already below 80 percent as a result of osteoporotic disease, the gum pockets of more than half of the test subjects were severely inflamed. The Austrian research group therefore suspects a strong correlation between osteoporotic conditions and periodontitis.

If the periodontium is permanently inflamed, the inflammation initially spreads to the gums. Oral bacteria accumulate and multiply in the gum pockets. If the periodontitis remains untreated for a long time, it can spread to the jawbone. Both the jawbone and the surrounding connective tissue suffer from the bacterial infestation. This leads to jaw atrophy, which in turn can have a negative effect on the dentition. The teeth loosen and, in the worst case, fall out.

Conversely, osteoporosis increases the risk of periodontitis. After all, bone loss is not limited to the thighs and spine. It can just as easily affect the oral cavity and trigger jaw necrosis. The jawbone shrinks, the teeth lose strength and there is a risk of tooth loss. At the same time, the osteoporotic changes increase the density of bacteria in the oral cavity and promote periodontal complaints such as:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness, swelling and chronic pain
  • Pathological bad breath

The gums recede further and expose the tooth necks. The consequences: Sensitivity to pain, susceptibility to tooth decay and tooth loss. The further the jaw atrophy progresses, the more persistent the periodontitis becomes. Finally, the dying bone increasingly creates space for oral bacteria, which penetrate deep into the gums and drive up the inflammation levels. This makes timely dental treatment all the more crucial. Especially for female patients. After all, women suffer from osteoporosis almost twice as often as men and thus lose healthy teeth twice as often as a consequence of chronic bone loss.