X-rays help predict permanent bone damage from bisphosphonates

May 07, 2009

Breast cancer patients, individuals at risk for osteoporosis and those undergoing certain types of bone cancer therapies often take drugs containing bisphosphonates. These drugs have been found to place people at risk for developing osteonecrosis of the jaws (a rotting of the jaw bones).

Dentists, as well as oncologists, are now using X-rays to detect "ghost sockets" in patients that take these drugs and when these sockets are found, it signals that the jawbone is not healing the right way. Early detection of these ghost sockets can help the patient avoid permanent damage to their jawbone, according to an article in the March/April 2009 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.

A ghost socket occurs when the jawbone is not healing and repairing itself the right way. "The good news is that even though these ghost sockets may occur, by using radiographic techniques we can see that the soft tissue above these sockets can still heal," according to Kishore Shetty, DDS, MS, MRCS, lead author of the report. Dr. Shetty states these findings are important news to learn about because early prevention and detection can halt permanent damage from happening to a patient's jawbone.

In 2006, about 191 million prescriptions of oral bisphosphonates worldwide were written. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that nearly 44 million people in the United States are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Currently, approximately 10 million Americans suffer from the disease.

Bisphosphonates are a family of drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, multiple myeloma, Paget's disease (bone cancers), and bone metastasis from other cancers. These drugs can bond to bone surfaces and prevent osteoclasts (cells that break down bone) from doing their job. Other cells are still working trying to form bone, but it may turn out to be less healthy bone leading to the ghost-like appearance on X-rays.

"Healthy bones can easily regenerate," says Dr. Shetty. "But, because jawbones have rapid cell turnover, they can fail to heal properly in patients taking any of the bisphosphonate drugs. It's very important for patients to know about complications from dental surgery or extractions. Since these drugs linger in the bone indefinitely, they may upset the cell balance in how the jaws regenerate and remove unhealthy bone."

According to AGD spokesperson Carolyn Taggart-Burns, DDS, FAGD, patients who are taking bisphosphonates should inform their dentist to prevent complications from dental surgical procedures.

"Widespread use of bisphosphonates to prevent or treat early osteoporosis in relatively young women and the likelihood of long-term use is a cause for concern," says Dr. Taggart-Burns.

Drs. Shetty and Taggart-Burns agree that, "how interfere with healing after dental surgery is still unclear and further research will be needed. It is imperative that the public understands there is no present treatment or cure for this problem."

Source: Academy of General Dentistry (news : web)

Explore further: Continued reliance on Windows XP in physician practices may threaten data security

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Popular osteoporosis drugs triple risk of bone necrosis

Jan 15, 2008

A University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute study has found that a popular class of osteoporosis drugs nearly triples the risk of developing bone necrosis, a condition that can lead to ...

USC dentist links Fosomax-type drugs to jaw necrosis

Jan 01, 2009

Researchers at the University Of Southern California, School Of Dentistry release results of clinical data that links oral bisphosphonates to increased jaw necrosis. The study is among the first to acknowledge that even short-term ...

Disclosure of medication can save a patient's life

Nov 25, 2008

Do you regularly take aspirin or antiplatelet medications? Do you know whether or not these drugs should be stopped before dental procedures or surgeries? According to a study published in the May/June issue of General De ...

Cancer treatment may result in bone loss

Nov 13, 2008

Montreal, November 13, 2008 – A new cross-Canada study has found that breast and prostate cancer treatment can foster bone loss. In the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the scientists explain how loss o ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

14 hours ago

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.