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Ann Periodontol. 2001 Dec;6(1):197-208.

Periodontal diseases and osteoporosis: association and mechanisms.

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  • 1Departments of Social and Preventive Medicine and Gynecology and Obstetrics, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.


There is increasing evidence that osteoporosis, and the underlying loss of bone mass characteristic of this disease, is associated with periodontal disease and tooth loss. Periodontitis has long been defined as an infection-mediated destruction of the alveolar bone and soft tissue attachment to the tooth, responsible for most tooth loss in adult populations. Current evidence including several prospective studies supports an association of osteoporosis with the onset and progression of periodontal disease in humans. The majority of studies have shown low bone mass to be independently associated with loss of alveolar crestal height and tooth loss. However studies that focus on the relation of clinical attachment loss and osteoporosis are less consistent. To date, the majority of studies on the relationship between periodontal disease and osteoporosis have been hindered by small sample sizes, limited control of other potential confounding factors, varying definitions of both periodontal disease and osteoporosis, and few prospective studies where the temporality of the association can be established. Potential mechanisms by which host factors may influence onset and progression of periodontal disease directly or indirectly include underlying low bone density in the oral cavity, bone loss as an inflammatory response to infection, genetic susceptibility, and shared exposure to risk factors. Systemic loss of bone density in osteoporosis, including that of the oral cavity, may provide a host system that is increasingly susceptible to infectious destruction of periodontal tissue. Studies have provided evidence that hormones, heredity, and other host factors influence periodontal disease incidence and severity. Both periodontal disease and osteoporosis are serious public-health concerns in the United States. Prevalence of both osteoporosis and tooth loss increase with advancing age in both women and men. Understanding the association between these common diseases and the mechanisms underlying those associations will aid health professionals to provide improved means to prevent, diagnose, and treat these very common diseases. This paper reviews the current evidence on the association between periodontal disease and osteoporosis.

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