Get access

Decreased bone mineral density and periodontal management


  • Michael S. Reddy,

  • Sarah L. Morgan


The definition of osteoporosis has evolved beyond low bone mineral density to include impaired bone morphology and matrix properties. As such, the subsequent bone density insufficiencies extend beyond the skeletal risks of fracture and have implications for oral health management patients. As our population ages there is a worldwide increase in the risk of decreased bone mineral density and its subsequent morbidity. This makes age an independent risk factor for fracture and decreased bone mineral density. Multiple examinations and diagnostic tests are currently used in combination to develop an algorithm to assess osteoporotic risk. Oral health care professionals should follow these principles and caution should be used in applying a single independent assessment to determine a patient's osteoporotic or bone metabolism risk. Therapeutic approaches for osteoporosis are often divided into nonpharmacological interventions and pharmacological therapies. The periodontist and other oral health care professionals should have a full understanding of the therapeutic options, benefits and implementation of preventive therapies. Bone turnover is a coupled event of bone formation and bone resorption and it is the imbalance of this homeostasis that results in osteoporosis. Based on this uncoupling of bone resorption and formation, osteoporosis or decreased bone mineral density and osteopenia, may be a risk factor for alveolar bone loss in periodontitis. The role of prevention and maintenance with a history of periodontitis and oesteopenia extends beyond biofilm control and should include management of bone mineral density. The chronic periodontal infection in a patient with osteopenia may place the patient at greatly increased risk for alveolar bone loss, gingival recession and root caries. A key component in the management is the oral health professional's knowledge of the interrelationship between skeletal health and periodontal health.