You probably already know how important regular dental checkups are to your oral health. No matter how well you brush and floss, it's still important to get your teeth professionally cleaned, and it's also an opportunity for your dentist to catch any dental problems early.
But did you know that there's another group of people for whom regular dental exams are even more important – people at risk of osteoporosis?
Who Is At High Risk?
The Mayo Clinic has a list of the risk factors for developing osteoporosis. Generally speaking, there are two sets of risks – those you can change, and those you have no control over. People who smoke, drink excessively, or don't get enough calcium in their diets are all at increased risk, as are people who spend most of their time sitting.
But even if you take care of yourself, certain groups are simply at higher risk of osteoporosis. Women develop osteoporosis much more frequently than men, and people who are ethnically Asian or Caucasian also have higher risk. There's also a reason the disease is associated with the elderly – your risk goes up as you age, especially after the hormonal changes of menopause.
What Effect Can Osteoporosis Have On Oral Health?
If your jawbone loses bone density, this can have a big impact on your teeth. Loose teeth and receding gums are common problems. In addition, as bone loss can gradually change the shape of your mouth, dentures and bridgework can become ill-fitting or loose.
Many people today are also choosing dental implants over dentures when it comes to replacing missing teeth. But low bone density in the jaw complicates getting dental implants – bone grafts can become necessary to build up the strength of the jaw. This lengthens the entire implant procedure, so keeping your bones healthy can make getting implants much easier.
How Can You Keep Bones Strong?
Luckily, there are things you can do to help your bones. And many of these will have a positive impact on your teeth as well!
Making sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet can help prevent or slow bone loss as well as keeping your teeth strong. Quitting smoking cuts out a risk factor for osteoporosis, and it will also prevent your teeth from becoming yellowed by tobacco. And doing exercises based on balance and weight-bearing, such as walking, dancing, and yoga, are great for your overall health as well as your bones.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
Dental x-rays are often the earliest place where bone loss is noticed. So in addition to getting your teeth cleaned regularly, make sure you opt for x-rays when you're at the dentist's office like Family First Dentistry LLC. And if you are worried about osteoporosis, discuss it with your dentist as well as your doctor.