There has been much discussion among doctors, dentists and patients about the benefits of bisphosphonate medications (such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva and Reclast) and the potential risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw. This condition, which involves painful, exposed bone in the jaw that does not heal normally, has been linked for some time with the use of bisphosphonates, although only rarely with the oral formulations most commonly prescribed to osteoporosis patients.
A recent article in Endocrine Today -- www.endocrinetoday.com/view.aspx?rid=26870 -- helps put the relationship between bisphosphonates and ONJ in perspective. As has been previously reported, the possibility of this side effect is much higher for those taking the drugs in the doses given intravenously for cancer patients. For many osteoporosis patients, the risk of breaking a bone is much higher than developing osteonecrosis of the jaw. This is important to bear in mind when one talks to a physician about treatment options for low bone mass.