Postmenopausal women susceptible to bone fractures may also be at higher risk for gum disease, according to researchers in the US.
Researchers found a link between postmenopausal women with high scores on a fracture assessment risk tool (known as FRAX), and symptoms of severe gum disease. The researchers say that more investigations are needed, but that the FRAX score could potentially be used as a way to find women at risk for gum disease.
Women can suffer a rapid spike in bone loss in the first decade after the onset of menopause as oestrogen levels drop. Lower oestrogen levels also impact the mouth and cause inflammatory changes in the body that can lead to gingivitis, a precursor to gum disease. If untreated, the result is tooth loss.
Knowing how bone loss occurs throughout the body in menopause, the researchers were also interested in the oral-physical connections. They set out to find a way for doctors to identify women at risk for both gum disease and osteoporosis. They tested the hypothesis that women at risk for bone fractures might also be at risk for gum disease. FRAX scores take into account weight, height, previous fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, smoking habits, diabetes and other factors, many of which are also markers for gum disease.
Researchers found that women with high FRAX scores also showed the strongest signs of gum disease, a result that suggests that bone loss scores could provide a reliable indicator of gum disease.