If you're a 50-year-old male and haven't had a dental bone density test yet, you need to see your dentist fast. Unlike a traditional bone density test that checks the skeletal systems of men and women over 50 years of age for osteoporosis, a dental bone density test examines the health of your jawbones. This critical test decreases your risk factors for male osteoporosis and tooth loss. If you're still unconvinced to have your jawbones tested, keep reading. Here's what happens if you don't have your jawbones tested, and the precautions you can take to reduce your risks for osteoporosis.
What Happens If You Have Male Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis isn't a health condition that only affects menopausal women. In fact, low bone density and poor bone strength currently affect over 2 million American men over the age of 50. Osteoporosis makes the bones of the body fragile, weak and susceptible to fractures. You may notice changes in how your hips and knees feel when you sit or stand up. For example, the bones of these locations may pop or crackle as they rub together.
If the problem spreads to your jawbones, you may notice popping sounds in your jaws when you open and close your mouth. Unless you know for sure that you have low bone density problems, you might think that you're simply getting older and these problems are signs of aging. Although your primary doctor can check out the bones of your arms, legs and spine to see if you have osteoporosis with a bone density test, your general dentistry provider can also diagnose the signs of osteoporosis. He or she can do it through a dental bone density test.
Your dentist usually performs a bone density test when he or she needs to place dental implants in a client's mouth, or if the dentist needs to diagnose and confirm osteoporosis. The traditional x-ray is typically the method of choice for the test. However, the dentist uses other testing techniques, such as the CT scan, to get an in-depth view of the upper and lower jawbones. These techniques tell your dentist if the:
- Jawbones lack the stability and strength to support implants or other dental treatments now and in the future
- Jawbones don't fit together properly, which occurs when the bones of the jaws lose height and width
- Jawbones contain weak spots near the jawline or around each tooth socket, which may indicate the formation of osteoporosis
If your dentist diagnoses osteoporosis in your jaws, he or she may refer you to your primary doctor for follow-up treatment. Your treatment may include:
- Vitamin D and calcium supplements to increase the thickness of your bones and jawbones
- Physical therapy sessions that strengthen your bones and joints
- Bone-protecting footwear that prevent fractures in your feet and ankles if you need to stand on your feet for long periods of time at work
In addition, your dentist may offer specific treatment options for you. The treatment may include bone-grafting surgery.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
Your dentist can rebuild your weakened jawbones in several ways, which includes using:
- Your body's own bone tissue to rebuild your jawbones, if your osteoporosis isn't too advanced
- Artificial methods, such as synthetic mesh, to increase your jawbones' density and strength
- Transplants from a cadaver donor
The artificial and cadaver methods may work better for you. They can build new bone tissue without placing your health at risk for infection, rejection or pain. You can speak to your dentist about your options when you make your next appointment.
Osteoporosis is a serious problem you should address now. If you wait too long to take your dental bone density test and your jawbones weaken further, you may lose teeth. Schedule your appointment and learn how you can prevent bone loss in your jaws and body's bones.