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Dr. David Ward | Dead Jaw Concerns About Injectable Osteoporosis Drugs in Big Spring


1500 Scurry St.
Big Spring TX 79720

(432) 267-1677

Family, Sedation & Laser Dentistry; Orthodontics; Implants

Dead Jaw Concerns About Injectable Osteoporosis Drugs


“Dead Jaw” Concerns About Injectable Osteoporosis Drugs

You may have recently seen advertisements about injectable bone building drugs and their convenience. You may also have seen advertisements from lawyers about suing for “dead jaw”. Dead jaw is a common term for the medical diagnosis bisphosphonate induced osteonecrosis of the jaws .If you are on bone building drugs for osteoporosis, you may be wondering what’s going on.

First, these bone building drugs are a class of drugs caused bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates come in three classes: IV (Aredia and Zometa); oral (Fosomax, Boniva, Actonel); and now injectable (Reclast, Boniva injectable).

First the good news. These drugs work! They work by inhibiting the osteoclastic cells that help break down bone. Millions of osteoporosis sufferers have had great improvement by use of these drugs and relatively few people have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaws.

More fairly good news. Most of the “dead jaw” cases developed in people using the IV versions. Most osteoporosis patients take the oral versions. There have been some oral drug related osteonecrosis cases, but relatively few. So what is “dead jaw”? Osteonecrosis of the jaw is an area of literally dead (necrotic) bone in the jaw. It is nasty looking, nasty smelling, and hurts. It tends to grow over time as there is no effective treatment. In some cases the whole jaw becomes involved. Any teeth in the area are lost and usually denture wear is not possible. It has not proven to be life threatening, but it is very “quality of life” damaging.

Now the bad news. We don’t know if the new injectable versions are going to cause a significant risk of osteonecrosis (like the IV ones), or very little (like the oral ones), or somewhere in between. Incidentally, trauma from surgery, a denture sore, or even a sharp piece of food can cause the wound that develops into the area of dead bone in a susceptible patient.

Here’s this dentists advice on these matters.1. If needed and possible, take the oral bisphosphonates. They work and the risk is very low.

2. Don’t take the injectable for convenience. If you’re too lazy to take a pill once a week or once a month, you’re too lazy!

3. If you, or a loved one can’t take the oral versions, don’t start the injectable or IVbisphosphonates until you’ve had an exam and discussion with your dentist.

You should follow your physician’s advice, but you need to be in good dental health before starting. Poorly fitting dentures should be relined or replaced. All teeth with fixable problems should be fixed. Any teeth with a poor long term prognosis, even if it means going to dentures, should be removed before injectable or IV bisphosphonate therapy is begun. Oral surgery, including tooth removal, really needs to be avoided after that since we don’t know how the injectable will do in the long run.

Dr. David Ward has practiced family dentistry in Big Spring since 1988. He is a past president of the Permian Basin District Dental Society and is a member of the American and Texas Dental Associations, the Academy of GP Orthodontics, the Academy of

Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry.

Big Spring Dentist | Dead Jaw Concerns About Injectable Osteoporosis Drugs. David Ward is a Big Spring Dentist.