By Dr Sushma Reddy

Scientists still struggle to point out the specific reasons as to why more women are prone to Osteoporosis, essentially a problem of bones; wherein the bones become weak, brittle, without showing any early symptoms and even without the person knowing about this – and hence there lies the danger of suffering from a ‘silent’ disease which may show its’ hazards anytime like stress fracture of the bone. The God’s miracle of the supply of free Vitamin D, through sunlight, is rarely available to the modern generation as they are living indoors which is definitely creating acute deficiency of this vitamin thereby, making them prone to Osteoporosis. If you thought anything to do with bone was always to do with orthopedics, you may think again. It might sound surprising, but your dentist, could be the first health professional to diagnose osteoporosis by looking at your teeth.

Osteoporosis is a progressive and systemic disease which affects more than 10 million people in India every year, majority being women. It can affect any bone or teeth in the body, although the bones in the hip, spine, and wrist are affected most often. While Osteoporosis is usually difficult to diagnose, a fragility-related fracture especially in your wrist, back or hip is an early indicator of osteoporosis.

Several studies have found a link between Osteoporosis and Alveolar bone - the portion of the jawbone that supports our teeth - and an increase in tooth mobility is seen in persons suffering from this disease. This is one of the reasons why your dentist is able to diagnose Osteoporosis early. Most commonly, the jaw bones in such persons are much less dense, and hence do not provide good support for the Implants or dentures, thereby creating challenges in their rehabilitation. The significance of bone density has a major role to play, in holding the Implants, which serve as a foundation to a successful denture.

If you are visiting your dentist repeatedly for new dentures, you might be suffering from Osteoporosis. Studies have found that post-menopausal women with Osteoporosis need new dentures three times more often than those without the disease. This situation occurs as bone resorption and loss becomes so severe that it is almost difficult to create functional dentures. Dentists can also determine the onset of osteoporosis through a routine x-ray which shows bone density.

There are many factors which affect the bone density which include diet and nutrition, physical activity, family history, hormones, lifestyle and even certain medications. As a mother, wife, sister and friend; while you should be conscious of the facts that affect your teeth, and in turn your bones, you are also advised to take good care to safeguard yourself. It’s important to know the food you eat and what it contains in order to create a healthy back-up.

One of the fundamentals is to make your bones strong and you can achieve this by ensuring calcium, vitamin D & vitamin K from your diet, supplements, or both. It’s common knowledge that milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products have high levels of calcium and key nutrients for bone health, such as phosphorus and protein. Green vegetables including spinach and broccoli is always advisable and if you are non-vegetarian seafood is also recommended. Researchers have reported that low protein intake decreases calcium absorption and may also affect rates of bone formation and breakdown. Needless to say, smoking and drinking is always a big No. Smoking is especially associated with decreased bone density. One of the best activities that ensures good health for your bones is weight-bearing or high-impact exercise. Strength-training exercise is good for increasing muscle mass and also helps protect against bone loss in younger and older women, including those with osteoporosis.

" The Author is Zonal Clinical Head, Clove Dental, Hyderabad".