• Bisphosphonates;
  • bone disease;
  • avascular necrosis;
  • jaws;
  • dental treatment


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. References

In 2002/2003 a number of patients presented to the South Australian Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit with unusual non-healing extraction wounds of the jaws. All were middle-aged to elderly, medically compromised and on bisphosphonates for bone pathology. Review of the literature showed similar cases being reported in the North American oral and maxillofacial surgery literature. This paper reviews the role of bisphosphonates in the management of bone disease. There were 2.3 million prescriptions for bisphosphonates in Australia in 2003. This group of drugs is very useful in controlling bone pain and preventing pathologic fractures. However, in a small number of patients on bisphosphonates, intractable, painful, non-healing exposed bone occurs following dental extractions or denture irritation. Affected patients are usually, but not always, over 55 years, medically compromised and on the potent nitrogen containing bisphosphonates, pamidronate (Aredia/Pamisol), alendronate (Fosamax) and zolendronate (Zometa) for non-osteoporotic bone disease. Currently, there is no simple, effective treatment and the painful exposed bone may persist for years. The main complications are marked weight loss from difficulty in eating and severe jaw and neck infections. Possible preventive and therapeutic strategies are presented although at this time there is no evidence of their effectiveness. Dentists must ask about bisphosphonate usage for bone disease when recording medical histories and take appropriate actions to avoid the development of this debilitating condition in their patients.

Abbreviations and acronyms:

percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. References