Medication has been used to hinder the breaking down of bone diseases such as osteoporosis and metastatic bone cancer.
However, these drugs are in groups called bisphosphonates which retard the function of specific cells called osteoclasts. There are different categories of osteoporosis medicine, and many of them are taken in the form of a pill.
Osteoclasts in a healthy body help to digest mature bone to pull calcium out of the bones when the body needs it and help the body grow by eliminating dying bone. Also, osteoclasts serve as chemical messengers to another cell type called osteoblasts, which aid the formation of new bone. In some cases, the osteoclasts become active and break down bone faster than the osteoblasts to rebuild new bone.
The goal of bisphosphonate treatments is to rebuild the balance between osteoclasts and osteoblasts. They function fairly well and are necessary to reduce the pain that comes from catastrophic fractures of the wrist, hip, and spine. Therapeutic dosages of medications can be prescribed, but there is no way to prescribe bisphosphonate treatments to re-build the harmony of bone remodeling that exists in a healthy individual.
Just like other drugs, side effects are expected reality. In regards to bisphosphonate medications, a rare but dangerous side effect has been found called bisphosphonate-linked osteonecrosis of the jaw after dental implants. Smoking, periodontal disease, malnutrition, and alcohol abuse are contributing factors. Osteonecrosis occurs due to the death of bone in a localized location that may or may not become infected. Unfortunately, the treatment is not predictable, and healing of bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis may not be possible.
Due to the side effects, it can affect the quality of life in people suffering from the health condition. Dentists are worried about extracting teeth in people that use bisphosphonate medication. It has severely affected the way that we prescribe medicines for these individuals. For instance, carrying out root canal therapy on broken roots is a wise treatment rather than the extraction in these patients. As with all medicine, it is good to consult both your physician and Dr. Layman or Dr. Shirman for more information.