Osteoporosis, which means porous bones, is a progressive condition in which bones become structurally weak and are more likely to fracture or break. It is sometimes called a “silent” disease because bone loss often occurs without you knowing it. Dealing with Osteoporosis can be a tough nut to crack if not done in time.
Approximately 10 million Indians have osteoporosis and an additional 34 million have low bone mass. Your dentist may be the first one to notice if you’re suffering from osteoporosis by these signs:
- Bone loss in the jaw and around teeth
- Tooth loss
- Loose or ill-fitting dentures
- Gum disease
If you or your dentist suspects you have osteoporosis, be sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible. They will likely measure your bone mineral density using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. There are new medications available for prevention as well as treatment of osteoporosis, and early intervention is the key to managing both your oral and overall health.
However, if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, here are a few tips to help you deal with it:
- Get Some Vitamin D
Vitamin D enables the mineralization of newly formed osteoid tissue in bone and plays an important role in muscle function. It helps the body absorb, retain, and use calcium. Sunlight triggers vitamin-D production in the body, and dietary sources include fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals.
- Oral bisphosphonates
Bisphosphonates are the most widely used osteoporosis medications and include alendronate (Fosamax), a pill or liquid taken either daily or weekly; risedronate (Actonel), and ibandronate (Boniva), a daily or monthly pill.
These medications are intended to prevent fractures in the spine, hips, and wrists among people with abnormal bone loss. Boniva, however, has only been proven to reduce spinal fractures. The pills can cause heartburn and upset stomach; therefore it must be taken on an empty stomach. You can’t eat for between 30 and 60 minutes after taking them, depending on the medicine.
- Monoclonal antibodies
A new class of medication (denosumab) is a monoclonal antibody that inactivates the natural bone breakdown mechanism. In 2010, denosumab was approved for osteoporosis treatment. Sold as Prolia, it is an injection given twice a year for osteoporotic patients in whom other treatments have failed or who have severe osteoporosis and a high risk for fractures. While the drug is effective, it does have its own side effects.
- Change your Diet
Excess refined sugars and starches, elevated insulin levels can aggravate the condition. The ideal diet is a one called the “low glycemic index” diet. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly food turns into sugar in the bloodstream. Low glycemic index foods do not raise blood sugar or insulin levels quickly and include lean proteins, beans, vegetables, and good fats (nuts, olives, olive oil, fish, fish oils, avocados). Increase your fibre intake.
- Get Physical
Yoga and Pilates can improve strength, balance and flexibility. However, certain positions may not be safe for people with osteoporosis or those at increased risk of broken bones. For example, exercises that have you bend forward may increase the chance of breaking a bone in the spine. A physical therapist should be able to help you learn which exercises are safe and appropriate for you.
Dealing with osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. So make sure you take these tips seriously to cope with the pain for dealing with osteoporosis.