Osteoporosis and Dental Health: How Bone Loss and Tooth Loss Are Related

In this post we explain the connection between osteoporosis and dental health, and how your dental exams and daily nutrition come into play.

Osteoporosis and Dental Health: How Bone Loss and Tooth Loss Are Related

Did you know that if you’re at risk for osteoporosis, you also have a higher risk of tooth loss? Your jaw bones and gums hold your teeth in place, so if you lose bone density because of osteoporosis, you could end up losing your teeth, too. In this post we explain how osteoporosis and dental health are connected, and how your dental exams and daily nutrition come into play.

How Does Osteoporosis Cause Tooth Loss?

Since they are not bones, osteoporosis won’t affect your teeth directly. However, it can affect your jaw—if the bones that support your teeth are weakened, your teeth may become loose and start to fall out. And if you don’t have enough bone density to support dental implants, you’ll be stuck wearing dentures for the rest of your life.

Osteoporosis is also related to gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss. Gum infections can travel below the gum line, through the root of the tooth, and into the jaw where they cause bone loss. Gum disease is far more common, and most people who have osteoporosis also have gum disease. Both diseases cause bone degeneration, and they both share many of the same risk factors, such as age.

Who Is at Risk for Osteoporosis?

In general, elderly people over 65 have the highest risk of osteoporosis. The disease is most common in postmenopausal women, but younger women who have stopped menstruating for other reasons have a high risk as well. Besides age and gender, other factors like genetics and lifestyle come into play. Risks include smoking, overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle, and calcium deficiency. 

Are You Getting Enough Calcium?

Calcium is one of the most important minerals for strong bones, and it helps you build stronger teeth, as well. Tooth loss has been directly linked to calcium deficiencies, especially in people with osteoporosis. The best way to get the calcium your body needs is to eat lots of calcium-rich foods. It’s easier for your body to absorb calcium from food than from a supplement, and you won’t have to worry about experiencing any negative side effects

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt might be the first things you think of when it comes to calcium. But don’t forget about leafy greens, almonds, or beans—especially if you’re lactose intolerant. In fact, calcium has a much higher bioavailability in plant foods compared to dairy. For example, you’ll get just as much calcium from eating one cup of cooked bok choy as you would from drinking a cup of milk. 

If you do decide to take a calcium supplement, choose one that also has magnesium and zinc—these three minerals work together to support bone health. Zinc supports bone-building cells, and magnesium helps convert Vitamin D to its active form. 

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Because it aids in the absorption of calcium, Vitamin D is another important nutrient for bone health. And it’s good for your teeth, too, because it helps prevent gum disease. But getting enough Vitamin D can be tricky, since it isn’t found in many foods. And although our bodies will naturally synthesize it from sunlight, in Arizona, the heat often keeps people indoors. Look for milk fortified with Vitamin D (both dairy and plant-based varieties are available) and consider taking a daily supplement.

Why Dental Exams Are Important

Osteoporosis is a difficult disease to detect. Far too many people don’t get diagnosed until the condition has progressed to the point where they need x-rays for a broken bone. However, because dentists can see indications of bone loss on your dental scans, they can help you get an early diagnosis. So don’t skip your dental exams—the more regularly you see your dentist, the easier it will be for them to recognize recent changes in your health.

Holistic Dentists in Prescott, Arizona

At Prescott Dentistry, we always emphasize the connections between good dental health and good health in general. Good dental health doesn’t just give you a brighter smile, it also lets you enjoy a better quality of life. You deserve a dentist that takes your whole health into consideration. To make an appointment, call 928-445-1660 or send us a message online today.


Photo by Joyce Hankins on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 4/15/2024.