CHICAGO – August 30, 1999 – Postmenopausal women weighing the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy may be able to add another benefit to their list – protecting their teeth. A study published in the current issue of The Journal of Periodontology released today suggests that estrogen supplementation in women within five years of menopause may slow the progression of periodontal disease. Study Abstract *
Studies show that at least half of Americans older than age 55 have periodontitis (an advanced stage of periodontal disease). Researchers have suspected that estrogen deficiency and osteopenia/osteoporosis speed the progression of oral bone loss following menopause, which could lead to tooth loss. The newly released study concluded that estrogen supplementation may lower gingival inflammation and the frequency of attachment loss (destruction of the fibers and bone that support the teeth) in women with signs of osteoporosis, thus helping to protect the teeth.
“For women at risk for osteoporosis, which likely makes them more vulnerable to rapid periodontal bone loss, this may be yet one more reason to be on estrogen,” said the study’s lead researcher Dr. Richard Reinhardt, professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Dentistry. “However, female smokers should note that the study found that smoking had a greater impact on speeding the progression of periodontal disease than estrogen deficiency.”
About 25 million of this country’s older women suffer bone loss due to osteoporosis. Estrogen supplementation is credited with helping to prevent bone loss, alleviating common menopause symptoms (such as hot flashes and irritability) and reducing the risk for coronary artery disease.
“While the study points to another possible benefit of hormone replacement therapy, women also need to consider the risks,” said Dr. Robert Schoor, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). “Women should speak to their physicians and their periodontists to help determine if estrogen supplementation is a good option for them.”
A referral to a periodontist in your area and free brochure samples including one titled Women and Periodontal Disease are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP’s Web site at www.perio.org.
About the AAP
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is the professional organization for periodontists—specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also dentistry’s experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. They receive three additional years of specialized training following dental school, and periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAP has 8,000 members worldwide.
For more information, contact the AAP Public Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312/573-3242.