Clean it Up Ladies, Lose the Dental Plaque

Postmenopausal women battle dental plaque

April 25, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Dental hygeine becomes increasingly important as one ages. The current standard of two dental appointments a year may not be adequate for postmenopausal women's dental needs.  A recent study explains the health consequences of sub-par teeth cleaning in postmenopausal women.

Researchers were initially trying to discern if long-term bisphosphonate (ex. Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva) therapy was effective for jawbone strengthening.  Instead, they learned something new. Postmenopausal women have way too much dental plaque to be considered healthy.

"Visit your dentist more often after menopause."

Leena Palomo explained that menopausal women are at risk for developing periodontal disease that affects the bones which anchor teeth. 

When hard plaque is left on teeth, it can trigger gum disease. This inflammatory reaction produces the cytokines protein reaction. Cytokines erode the socket that anchors the tooth in place. If bone loss isn't stopped, a woman could potentially lose her teeth.

Both groups of women in their study had similar markers for osteoporosis but both also had way too much dental plaque. The levels present could endanger the jawbone of the women not taking bisphosphonate and reverse any benefits possibly gained by the women taking bisphosphonate.

In Depth

  • 28 postmenopausal with with normal bones were compared with 28 postmenopausal women on bisphosphonate therapies for two years or more
  • All women were between 51 and 80
  • All women brushed their teeth twice daily, flossed and had at least two dental check-ups per year
  • All women had conebeam CT scans of their jaws and a periodontal check for dental plaque, bleeding
  • They were also checked for loss of bone attachment and of the alveolar bone socket
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 18, 2011
Last Updated:
April 25, 2011