For people suffering from bone conditions such as osteoporosis, as well as people with bone disease as a result of cancer, medicines called bisphosphonates have been life changing. These drugs reverse the process of bone weakening, leading to fewer fractures. Unfortunately, like all drugs, bisphosphonates have side effects. One of the most serious is a condition called BRONJ. Your Lake Orion Implant Dentist, Dr. Brad Greenfield, discusses the symptoms of BRONJ and what treatment options are available.
What is BRONJ
Bisphosphonate related osteonecrosis of the jaw, or BRONJ, occurs when part of the jawbone dies and is exposed in the mouth for eight weeks or more. Symptoms of this condition include mouth pain, gum inflammation, loose teeth, and exposed bone. BRONJ progresses through three stages. The first stage involves the bone becoming exposed in the mouth, with no pain or inflammation. Pain and inflammation are present when the disease progresses to stage two. At stage three, a significant part of the bone is exposed in the mouth, and infection has begun.
As the name suggests, only patients taking bisphosphonates are at risk of this malady. More than half of sufferers had routine dental surgery while taking the medicine. People taking the drug for treatment of cancer are at considerably higher risk than those taking it for osteoporosis or other non-life threatening bone diseases, because the doses for cancer patients are much stronger. It is also thought that the length of time that patient takes the drug increases risk.
In most cases, BRONJ patients will need to seek treatment from an oral surgeon, who will work with the patient’s primary physician and dentist to come up with the proper course of treatment. Surgery is likely to be necessary in advanced cases. If the disease is caught early, however, treatment with antibiotics and mouth rinses might be effective.
If you have been prescribed bisphosphonates for cancer treatment, see your dentist for a checkup and to have any necessary procedures done before you begin to take the medicine. If you have been prescribed biphosphonates for a less serious bone disease, keep your dentist informed about your treatment and dose schedule. Maintain good oral hygiene practices, including twice a day brushing, and make sure you check your mouth regularly for any bone exposure. Consult your physician and dentist immediately if you suspect you might have developed BRONJ.
Your Lake Orion Implant Dentist Is Waiting to See You
If you have any concerns about you oral health, or you want to discuss dental implants, contact our Lake Orion dental implant office by calling (248) 693-6213 to schedule an appointment today. We proudly serve patients from Lake Orion, Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Oxford, and Rochester Hills, the 48360 zip code, as well as many other areas in Michigan.