Often called ONJ, Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a condition in which the bone of the jaw becomes exposed and begins to deteriorate because of the lack of blood flow. This is indicated by its name. For instance, “osteo” means bone, while necrosis means death. Though the majority of cases of ONJ occur following a dental tooth extraction, it is also associated with cancer treatments, oral infections, steroids and medications that are used to manage and treat osteoporosis.
The American College of Rheumatology provides some fast facts about ONJ. First, osteonecrosis of the jaw is much more common in individuals that are taking antiresorptive medications for cancer treatments. In turn, many patients that take these medications can be healed with conservative treatment methods, and often do not require surgery. Finally, good oral hygiene and regular dental care is the best way to lower the risk of developing ONJ.
ONJ – Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
Many wonder if physicians can determine one’s risk for developing osteonecrosis of the jaw. To date, a sophisticated diagnostic test cannot check for one’s susceptibility to ONJ. In fact, the condition is not diagnosed until patients experience pain from the exposure of the jawbone. At this point, a patient’s pain is likely due to infection and inflammation, as well as drainage from sensitive tissues and exposed bone.
The good news regarding treatment for ONJ is that most individuals respond to conservative means such as medicated rinses, antibiotics and analgesics.
Even so, dentists urge patients to let them know if they are taking antiresorptive medications so that they can equip them with the information and tools necessary to avoid ONJ. Often, dentists will tailor dental treatments for patients taking antiresorptive medications by opting for non-invasive, nonsurgical treatments whenever possible. Thus, even if a patient feels that they need a tooth extraction, the dentist will opt for root canal therapy (if possible) in order to avoid surgery.
Communication Is Key
In any case, the key to obtaining and maintaining good oral health, even when one is facing other medical obstacles, is communication with their dentist. Thus, if you are taking antiresorptive medications, it is imperative to let your dentist know. It’s also important not to skip regular dental checkups or examinations.
Providing a full scope of dental services to individuals and families in New York, the skilled dental professionals at Gramercy Dental Center place a high value on providing patients with a comfortable and convenient experience. If you have a question about your oral health, or if it’s time to schedule your dental checkup, call Gramercy Dental Center on East 19th Street today.
Posted on behalf of Gramercy Dental Center