Dr. Nammy Patel from San Francisco Green Dentistry discusses gum disease and osteoporosis, a condition where the bone becomes weak or lost.

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone is really weak or it’s lost. There’s two types of cells that are in bone. There are cells that actually cause the bone to grow and there are cells that eat away the bone, and this is happening all the time. And in somebody with osteoporosis, what happens is that the bacteria that are eating away the bone are more active. And when that happens — and it happens for many reasons, sometimes it’s just aging, it can be hormones, it can be use of radiation or chemotherapy drugs, what have you — that starts making the bone weak.

And the teeth are housed in the bone with little ligaments. And that bone is really important. It’s kind of like the soil that’s around a tree. And if there is somebody who has osteoporosis, there’s a higher chance of tooth loss. There’s also a higher chance of gum disease.

So I urge you, if you have osteoporosis, or if you’re older, beyond 40, or in general, I recommend that you go to the dentist, get your gums checked out and do everything you can to avoid bone loss, because once bone goes away, it does not come back. And it’s important to take preventative measures for yourself now so that you can keep your teeth long term. You can chew comfortably, you can be comfortable and you can also look good.

We love our teeth. We’re a tooth conscious society. We want to be able to smile and we want to be able to show affection by kissing somebody. We want to make sure that it’s our emotional wellbeing as well. So I would urge you to make sure your gums are in great shape.