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Don't let your smile fade away - Understanding Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

Posted on 5/15/2024 by Sunnyside Dentistry
Patient holding her jaw and a cup of coffee before she made her appointment at Sunnyside Dentistry in Clackamas, ORImagine the horror of discovering a blackening, decaying area in your jawbone, a silent void where once stood a healthy tooth. This unsettling reality is Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), a rare but serious condition that can affect anyone, although some are more susceptible than others.

ONJ is characterized by the death of bone tissue in the jaw, often accompanied by pain, swelling, and exposed bone. While its causes are complex and varied, understanding the factors that contribute to ONJ can empower you to take preventative measures and safeguard your oral health.

The Culprits: Unveiling the Triggers of ONJ

One of the primary culprits behind ONJ is medication. Bisphosphonates, used to treat conditions like osteoporosis and some cancers, and Denosumab, a drug for bone loss, can disrupt bone remodeling, potentially leading to ONJ. Additionally, certain chemotherapy drugs and corticosteroids can also increase the risk.

Shining a Light on Risk Factors

While medication plays a significant role, other factors can also contribute to ONJ. These include:

•  Dental procedures: Invasive dental surgeries, such as tooth extractions, can sometimes trigger ONJ, especially in individuals already at risk.
•  Poor oral hygiene: Inadequate oral care, including neglecting regular dental checkups and cleanings, creates a breeding ground for bacteria that can exacerbate ONJ.
•  Tobacco use: Smoking significantly increases the risk of ONJ, as it restricts blood flow to the jawbone and hinders its healing ability.

Navigating the Path to Prevention

The good news is that ONJ is largely preventable. By working closely with your healthcare providers and maintaining impeccable oral hygiene, you can significantly reduce your risk. Here's how:

•  Open Communication: Ensure open communication with your doctor and dentist about your medical history and medications, especially if you are on bisphosphonates, Denosumab, or undergoing chemotherapy.
•  Regular Checkups: Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings. This allows your dentist to monitor your oral health and identify any potential issues early on.
•  Meticulous Oral Hygiene: Practice meticulous oral hygiene by brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and using an antiseptic mouthwash.
•  Avoid Smoking: Quitting smoking is crucial not only for preventing ONJ but also for overall health.

Empowering Yourself with Knowledge

Understanding ONJ and its risk factors is the first step towards safeguarding your oral health. By working with your healthcare team, prioritizing oral hygiene, and avoiding smoking, you can significantly reduce your risk of this serious condition. Remember, your smile is a precious asset, and taking proactive steps to protect it empowers you to enjoy a lifetime of healthy, confident smiles.

Restoration Dentistry: Your Partner in Oral Health

At Restoration Dentistry, we are committed to providing our patients with comprehensive care and education. If you have any concerns about ONJ or your oral health, please don't hesitate to contact us. Our team of experienced professionals is here to answer your questions and help you make informed decisions about your oral health.

Together, we can keep your smile shining bright.

Get in Touch!

(503) 451-5104


14210 SE Sunnyside Rd Ste 200
Clackamas, OR 97015-5240

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Dental Blog | Sunnyside Dentistry | Clackamas, OR dentist
Dick Hikade, DDS at Sunnyside Dentistry has created this informative blog to help educate the community about dental concerns.
Sunnyside Dentistry, 14210 SE Sunnyside Rd, Suite 200, Clackamas, OR 97015 | (503) 451-5104 | | 6/16/2024 | Key Phrases: dentist Clackamas OR |