Like its name implies, osteoporosis is a condition in which certain bones develop pores. The reduction in density can cause bones to become thin and brittle, making them more susceptible to breaking. Often referred to as a ”silent disease,” you may not be aware that you have osteoporosis until an incident, like a broken bone occurs. Your risk for this disease increases with age.
Osteopenia is not a condition, but a term used to identify a lower bone mineral density that is not severe enough to be diagnosed as osteoporosis. Osteopenia can, over time, evolve to osteoporosis, but this progression can be slowed or stopped. Healthy lifestyle changes often help to reduce the risk of osteopenia progressing to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis and osteopenia are more common than you think. Nearly 40 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone density, according to the National Institutes of Health. Bone disease can happen to both men and women and crosses all ethnicities. In fact, one in every two women and one in every four men over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
If you have bone loss or osteoporosis, you should pay special attention to your dental health. The National Institutes of Health report that bone loss in the jaw has been linked to osteoporosis. And women who have osteoporosis are three times more likely to lose teeth than those who don’t have the disease.
Although periodontal or gum disease can result in tooth loss, researchers are still studying the relationship between low bone density and gum disease. Further research also needs to be done to identify if osteoporosis treatment can also contribute to jaw bone health.
Here are four tips to keep your bones strong and healthy:
- Exercise regularly. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging or weight training are good for keeping your bones healthy.
- Eat foods high in calcium and vitamin D, like yogurt, cheese and milk.
- Don’t smoke.
- Practice good oral health habits and see your dentist regularly.