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Osteoporosis

Information Regarding Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)

Several bisphosphonates (such as Actonel, Boniva, and Fosamax) have been approved by the FDA for treatment of osteoporosis. Recently there have been reports of a rare condition called osteonecrosis occurring in patients taking bisphosphonates. There is no one definition of osteonecrosis of the jaw, but it is generally used to describe poor or delayed healing of the jaw bone after an oral surgery procedure.

The vast majority of reported cases have occurred in patients with cancer who were being treated with intravenous bisphosphonates and who had undergone a dental procedure. Because of these findings, it would be prudent to ascertain that your teeth and mouth are in good condition prior to beginning treatment with a bisphosphonate.

It is unclear at this time if oral bisphosphonates contribute to jaw necrosis. Those taking these medicines can take extra precautions prior to having dental work performed. Patients can stop the medication if dental surgery is recommended and resume it once the site has completely healed.

If you have any questions or concerns about using bisphosphonates for osteoporosis, please consult your physician.

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Last Reviewed: Aug 16, 2006

Margery   Gass, MD Margery Gass, MD
Formely, Professor, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati