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Oral Dis. 2010 May;16(4):316-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2009.01615.x. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

Triage screening for osteoporosis in dental clinics using panoramic radiographs.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, School of Dentistry, Matsumoto Dental University, Hirooka, Shiojiri, Japan.


Many patients with osteoporosis go undiagnosed because typically no symptoms are present before a fracture. Triage screening to refer patients to appropriate medical professionals for further investigation would be useful to address the increase in the incidence of osteoporotic fractures. Dental clinics may offer a new triage screening pathway because dentists frequently take radiographs of bones in the course of dental treatment. A major premise for such triage screening in dental clinics is that dentists can readily use a screening tool in their dental practice. For example, cortical width and shape of the mandible detected on panoramic radiographs may be appropriate indices for triaging individuals with osteoporosis. To date, several investigators have demonstrated significant associations between cortical indices on panoramic radiographs and bone mineral density of the skeleton generally, such as the spine and femur, biochemical markers of bone turnover and risk of osteoporotic fractures. Further, in two recent Japanese clinical trials, approximately 95% of women who were identified by trained dentists in their clinics using cortical shape findings did have osteopenia or osteoporosis. These findings support the possibility that dental clinics may offer a new triage platform to identify individuals with otherwise undetected osteoporosis.

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