Recently, researchers concluded that women with osteoporosis were twice as likely as having periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss.1 Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease that is characterized by bone loss and soft tissue detachment from the tooth. For years, professionals have suspected that there is a link between osteoporosis and dental disease. Many have tried to pinpoint the exact nature of the association between the two ailments and this recent study certainly suggests that that there is a solid connection. By looking at these results, some may jump to the conclusion that osteoporosis causes periodontitis. But before jumping to that conclusion, we need to dig a little deeper.
Just looking at the risk factors for periodontitis, you’ll see many similarities to the risk factors for osteoporosis. The risks for both disease processes include: tobacco use, poor nutrition, hormonal changes and older age. Because periodontis and osteoporosis share many of the same risk factors, the relationship between the two might not be a direct cause and effect relationship at all. And after reviewing all the available evidence, that is what a recent review article concluded. Osteoporosis is a shared risk factor rather than a causal risk factor for periodontitis.2 In other words, osteoporosis does not necessarily cause periodontitis. It merely shares common root causes.
So getting back to the conclusion that women with osteoporosis were twice as likely as having periodontitis is probably just a reflection of the overall systemic processes that affect both the bones and the jaw. If you have a problem with osteoporosis, then you are also likely to have periodontal disease because what causes one also causes the other.
Similarly, what helps to prevent osteoporosis is also going to help prevent dental disease too. Good nutrition and good life-style habits helps to ensure strong, healthy bones and teeth. The link between osteoporosis and dental disease is there, but osteoporosis does not necessarily cause dental disease. Like many physical ailments, both are rooted in common sources of disease and deterioration.