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ADA Informs Patients About Osteoporosis Medications and Oral Health

ADA creates brochures with National Osteoporosis Foundation

Contact Information:

Telephone: 312-440-2806
E-mail: mediarelations@ada.org (Journalists) or Contact ADA (All Others)

Chicago, March 9, 2009—Dental patients who have been alarmed or confused by recent news reports about how osteoporosis medications might affect their oral health now have a brochure to help them separate fact from fiction. The American Dental Association (ADA) collaborated with the National Osteoporosis Foundation to create the brochure, "Osteoporosis Medications and Your Dental Health," which will be available in dental offices this month.

The brochure explains that some patients who have taken bisphosphonates, a common class of drugs taken by those with osteoporosis or low-bone density, have developed bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of the jaw. Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a rare but serious condition that can cause severe damage to the jawbone. This condition is diagnosed in patients who have an area of exposed bone in the jaw that persists for more than eight weeks, who have no history of radiation therapy to the head and neck and who are taking, or have taken, a bisphosphonate medication.

The chance of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw for patients who take bisphosphonates is unknown; however researchers agree that the chance appears to be very small. In fact, 94 percent of people diagnosed with osteonecrosis of the jaw are cancer patients who are or have received repeated high doses of bisphosphonates intravenously. The remaining 6 percent diagnosed with osteonecrosis of the jaw took oral bisphosphonates.

"Patients who take bisphosphonates for osteoporosis are encouraged to talk to their dentist so that their dentist can show them good oral hygiene practices as well as monitor their oral health," says Matthew Messina, D.D.S., ADA Consumer Advisor and a general dentist based in Ohio. "Patients should not stop taking their osteoporosis medications without speaking with their physicians."

According to the ADA, the benefits of osteoporosis medications greatly outweigh the risks of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Osteoporosis is a serious condition that causes 2 million bone fractures a year, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Half of women and 20 percent of men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates are commonly prescribed to prevent broken bones. Common bisphosphonate medications include alendronate (Fosamax®), ibandronate (Boniva®), risedonate (Actone®) and zoledronic acid (Reclast®).

The "Osteoporosis Medications and Your Dental Health" brochures will be available in dental offices or for purchase by dentists on the ADA's Web site at www.ada.org. For more information about osteonecrosis of the jaw, please visit the ADA's Web site by clicking here, or the National Osteoporosis Foundation's Web site at www.nof.org.

About the American Dental Association

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit www.ada.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website www.MouthHealthy.org.