Oral osteoporosis medicines safe during dental work

Some doctors and dentists had advised patients who take oral osteoporosis medications such as Fosamax and Boniva to postpone dental work, fearing that tooth extractions and other procedures would exacerbate jaw problems purportedly linked to the medication. But the new findings refute the link and suggest the benefits of dentistry likely outweigh the risks for many of these patients.

Athanasios Zavras began receiving messages from distraught patients in 2005 after case reports linked oral osteoporosis meds to bone death in the jaw. A number of doctors and dentists advised women and men taking these drugs to postpone dental work, fearing that procedures such as tooth extractions would exacerbate the problem. That’s when Zavras, an associate professor in the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, decided to take a closer look at the purported link.

After analyzing the medical claims of 714,217 people, Zavras, along with Vassiliki Cartsos at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and Shao Zhu of Ingenix-i3 Drug Safety (the company that provided medical claims data), have concluded that oral osteoporosis meds seem to reduce the risk of jaw degradation. Clinical studies are needed to replicate and clarify the results, which appear in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

“This is good news for the roughly 3 million Americans who take Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva or similar osteoporosis meds orally,” says Zavras, who is also director of dental public health in the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology.

Journal of the American Dental Association, January 2008, Vol. 139: 23-30
“Bisphosphonate use and the risk of adverse jaw outcomes: a medical claims study of 714,217 people”
Vassiliki M. Cartsos (1), Shao Zhu (2), and Athanasios I. Zavras (3)

Source: Harvard Medical School, USA


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