How Regular Dental Checkups Can Help Detect Osteoporosis
Chances are you already know that seeing a dentist regularly for checkups and thorough cleanings is extremely important for your overall oral health. But did you know that your dentist could potentially help to protect all the bones in your body, too? If you're a post-menopausal woman, or have a family history of osteoporosis, you should never skip seeing your dentist.
Osteoporosis is unfortunately common among women and even some men. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that up to 54 million Americans are currently experiencing low bone density or full-blown osteoporosis, and that one in two women and one in four men will break a bone after the age of 50 due to this disease. Unfortunately, despite this, detecting osteoporosis early on can be difficult for general physicians, but dentists can detect the signs fairly easily.
How A Dentist Can Help
Believe it or not, even if you're seeing your doctor regularly, your dentist may be the first person to recognize the early signs of osteoporosis. When you begin to develop osteoporosis, the density and strength of your bones diminishes. While you may not have guessed it, this includes your teeth and jaw. Teeth can become weakened, porous, or more easily damaged if you have osteoporosis, and they can also become loose in the jaw. This is because as the jaw's bone density diminishes, the roots of your teeth aren't as snug and begin to become loose. In time, this can cause your teeth to fall out, or become more easily infected.
The Difference Between Early and Late-Stage Osteoporosis
The best part about a dentist identifying osteoporosis is that they are trained to handle the only exposed bones in your body: your teeth. While general physicians generally have to run x-rays of your entire body to determine your bone density, your dentist is visually examining your teeth themselves. Additionally, you're likely to have dental x-rays performed on a fairly frequent basis, which can also identify lowered bone density in your jaw. This is a far better alternative to how many people discover they have osteoporosis: by breaking a bone after a simple fall, stumble, or other minor accident. If your bones are easily broken, then osteoporosis has already fully developed and is more difficult to treat or reverse.
Dentists can help to protect your teeth, gums, bones, and even your heart's health. Skipping a dental appointment should never be an option. If you haven't seen your dentist recently, make an appointment soon. For more information, visit http://www.nwidentist.com/ or a similar website.