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After menopause, women at risk of bone fractures might also be at risk of periodontal disease. (Photograph: Toa55/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Feb 25, 2015 | News Americas

Women prone to bone fractures have higher risk of periodontal disease

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CLEVELAND, USA: New research has found that postmenopausal women susceptible to bone fractures may also be at an elevated risk of developing periodontal disease. The findings suggest that it may be appropriate for clinicians to refer women after menopause with high fracture risk to a periodontist for disease screening.

In the study, researchers at Case Western Reserve University assessed periodontitis severity and bone fracture risk using the Fracture Assessment Risk Tool (FRAX) in 853 women aged 51–80.

A comparison of both factors found that all women with high FRAX scores, indicating a major risk of osteoporotic fracture, also exhibited the strongest signs of periodontal disease, such as attachment loss and tooth loss. However, this was not the case in controls—although oral hygiene scores did not differ significantly between the two groups.

These findings suggest that bone loss scores could provide a reliable indicator of periodontal disease, the researchers said. Nevertheless, more investigations into the relation between the two conditions are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

In the first decade after the onset of menopause, women can suffer a rapid spike in bone loss, mainly due to dropping estrogen levels, which can also affect oral health and cause inflammatory changes in the body. Such inflammation can lead to gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth loss if left untreated, explained Dr. Leena Palomo, associate professor of periodontics at the university's dental school, who has been researching periodontal disease in postmenopausal women since 2002.

The study, titled "Can the FRAX Tool be a Useful Aid for Clinicians in Referring Women for Periodontal Care?," was published in the January issue of Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.

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