Dentists may be able to help screen women for osteoporosis by looking at X-rays that they are taking anyway, Japanese researchers said on Tuesday.
Panoramic dental X-rays, which show the whole jaw, can also show the beginnings of low skeletal bone mineral density, they said. This is the first step toward osteoporosis.
Dr. Akira Taguchi of Hiroshima University Hospital in Japan and colleagues studied 316 women past menopause who had no symptoms of osteoporosis but who got dental X-rays.
The X-rays were just as sensitive as questionnaires in identifying the women who were likely to have the beginnings of osteoporosis, Taguchi reported in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
Women may be more likely to take a trip to the dentist’s office than to get checked for osteoporosis, Taguchi said.
“The response rate for questionnaires may be relatively low if post-menopausal women have little information or no interest regarding osteoporosis,” Taguchi said in a statement.
Women with a small frame, of Caucasian descent and who are poorly nourished have a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Worldwide, 30 to 40 percent of all women and one in five of all men will have osteoporosis in their lives, often severe enough to cause a bone fracture according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.