Bisphosphonates benefit teeth after menopause–but not likely

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Whether they use bisphosphonates or not, postmenopausal women need to pay more attention to their dental health.

Whether they use bisphosphonates or not, postmenopausal women need to pay more attention to their dental health, according to the unexpected findings of a recent study.

Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic set out to study the long-term effects of bisphosphonates on the jawbone, but made an additional finding.

They compared 28 white postmenopausal women with low bone density who had used bisphosphonate therapy for at least 2 years with a matching group of women not using bisphosphonate therapy. All were between 51 and 80 years of age. They received cone-beam computed tomography scans of their jaws and a complete periodontal check for dental plaque, bleeding, and loss of bone attachment and of the alveolar bone socket.

However, the researchers also found that in spite of brushing twice daily, flossing, and having at least 2 dental checkups per year, the women in both groups had increased dental plaque levels that could endanger the jawbone of normal postmenopausal women and reverse benefits gained in bone mass from bisphosphonate therapy.

The researchers concluded that postmenopausal women may need to see their dentists more than twice each year to control dental plaque.

Palomo L, Buencamino-Francisco MC, Carey JJ, Sivanandy M, Thacker H. Is long-term bisphosphonate therapy associated with benefits to the periodontium in postmenopausal women? Menopause. 2011;18(2):164-170.

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