While many people are suitable candidates for dental implants, one of the most common conditions that can complicate dental implant surgery is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is on the rise in Australia and more and more patients are being diagnosed with the condition each year.

Osteoporosis doesn’t inherently complicate dental implant surgery, however the medications patients take for osteoporosis can affect the healing in dental implant patients.

There are two classes of osteoporosis medications, bisphosphonates (e.g. Fosomax) and denosumab (e.g. Prolia.)

If you are taking either of these medications, your oral surgeon needs to confer with your specialist to determine the best course of action in planning for your dental implant surgery. These medications reduce bone cell turnover to help hinder the progression of your osteoporosis, but healthy bone cell turnover is needed for the bone around the dental implants to heal and integrate.

The most common complication of dental implant surgery in patients with osteoporosis is called ONJ – osteo-necrosis of the jaw, which happens when a wound in the jawbone cannot heal.

In order to proceed surgery, the oral surgeon must take as conservative an approach as possible (which often means planning as few implants as necessary to improve your quality of life.)

Your specialist and your implant surgeon will discuss postponing osteoporosis medication during the healing process of implant surgery and consider if this is a feasible option for you without compromising your long-term health.

However, just because you’re taking these medications doesn’t mean you can’t have the surgery, it juts requires very careful planning. Many patients with osteoporosis can have dental implant surgery with an excellent long-term outcome for their teeth and bone health, but conferring with your surgeon and specialist is key.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr Helen Voronina

Dr Helen Voronina is the principal dentist at "Dr Helen's Dental & Implant Studio". Having graduated from the University of Melbourne and later from the Brener Implant Institute, in her practice she places emphases on the implant, aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry. She is a member of the Australian Dental Association, The International Congress of Implantology and The Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID). She is a former chairperson for the National Dental Foundation and an official dentist for the Melbourne Hearts Football Club.