New research further confirms the impact hormones can have on a women’s oral health. According to a recent Science Daily article, scientists at the University at Buffalo have concluded that estrogen treatment for osteoporosis may help prevent gum disease in postmenopausal women.
Estrogen naturally decreases as women go through the hormonal changes of menopause, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle from tissue loss. The study found that women over the age of 50 who were being treated with estrogen for the condition were 44% less likely to have severe periodontitis than those who did not receive the treatment. Previous studies have investigated the relationship between osteoporosis and tooth loss, but few have investigated the link between estrogen therapy and periodontitis, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
“These results help confirm the finding of previous studies that suggested that estrogen therapy to prevent osteoporosis could also play a role in the prevention of gum disease,” said Frank Scannapieco, DMD, PhD, co-author on the study, and professor and chair of the Department of Oral Biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine. “By advancing our understanding of how this treatment can impact oral health, we can better work to improve the bone health and quality of life of female patients,” he added.
The study involved nearly 500 postmenopausal women who received service at an osteoporosis diagnosis center in Brazil. Of the 356 who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis, 113 chose to receive estrogen therapy. The women were divided into two categories: women who received estrogen therapy for at least six months and those who never had it. Other factors were also recorded, such as race, income and level of education. Researchers found that women receiving osteoporosis treatment had less periodontal probing depth and clinical attachment loss than those who did not. They also found that higher family income and more frequent consultations with a dentist were associated with a lower prevalence of periodontitis.
While evidence of estrogen having a significant role in maintaining healthy bones exists, hormone therapy has also been shown to cause adverse effects, like increasing the risk of heart disease and breast cancer, said Scannapieco. Further research is necessary to understand if prevention and treatment of osteoporosis may also help to control periodontal disease and tooth loss.