If you’re considering dental implants, it’s important to consider whether any of your medications might impact the success rate or complication risk of the procedure. One common class of medications that many people are taking that’s been suspected of increasing the risk of dental implant failure is bisphosphonates.
A new study seems to point strongly to bisphosphonates as a potential risk factor for implant failure, but the story is more complicated than that. Bisphosphonates need to be considered, but they may not impact your dental implants.
The New Study Shows Dramatic Impact
This new study from Japan looked at the impact of people taking oral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates are a class of medication that changes the way the body builds bone. Normally, the body removes and replaces bone roughly equally when maintaining bone density. To help people with low bone density build bone, bisphosphonates impair the cells that remove bone. This allows the body to build more bone, but can change the structure of the built bone.
As a result, bisphosphonates have been linked to complications like femur fractures, spinal fractures, and jawbone death (osteonecrosis of the jaw), which can also be a rare complication of dental implant procedures. It’s also been suspected that the restructured bone might be less hospitable to dental implants.
And that’s exactly what this new study found. It looked at 25 women age 60 and over who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Eleven of them had been prescribed bisphosphonates and been taking them for a year or more, while the other 14 were taking hormone therapy. The bisphosphonate group received 25 implants, while the hormone group received 28 implants.
Among the bisphosphonate group, three dental implants failed within a year, a failure rate of 11%, while none of the implants failed in the hormone group.
Researchers also looked at the quality of bone in the bisphosphonate group and saw changes that might be linked to implant failure.
This dramatic contrast seems really convincing, but there are reasons why we might not take it too seriously.
Why the New Study Shouldn’t Be Taken Alone
This new study certainly gives us something to consider, but we shouldn’t accept it as sufficient evidence to say that bisphosphonates cause problems. First of all, this study was very small. With populations of this size, it’s easy for a small perturbation to make a big difference. This could be a random fluke. Researchers also didn’t look at whether the hormone therapy caused changes to the jawbone as well. The difference might be that hormones help integration, not that bisphosphonates hurt.
When considering dental implants, we will consider all relevant risk factors and help you to make an informed decision about whether implants are right for you, but it seems that bisphosphonates don’t have to be a reason why you can’t get implants.