Osteonecrosis is bone death caused by poor blood supply. It can affect any bone, but is most common in hip, shoulder and other large joints. Osteonecrosis of the jaw bone (also called mandible) is a known side effect of certain anti-cancer medications and radiation therapy. It can cause quite severe symptoms and be difficult to treat.
If you see necrotic or exposed bone in the jaw when you open the mouth, get immediate medical evaluation from your cancer team.
How bad is my osteonecrosis of jaw?
Mild: Mostly asymptomatic but you may have numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw.
Moderate: The symptoms are loosening of teeth and poor healing of the gums especially after dental treatment. It may limit your instrumental activities of daily life (preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework, and using a telephone).
Severe: It may limit your self care activities of daily life (eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, and using the toilet). Consult your dentist if you have mouth pain, swollen gums, poor healing or infection of the gums, and pus discharge.
How to manage mild osteonecrosis of jaw?
- Use antibiotics, oral rinses, and removable mouth appliances (retainers) as suggested by your physician.
- Maintain oral hygiene. Brush and floss after every meal to reduce the risk of oral infection.
- Schedule a dental exam and cleaning before you begin cancer treatment.
- Ask your dentist check and adjust removable dentures as needed
When to see a doctor?
Visit your doctor immediately if you experience
- Jaw Pain
- Infection in the gums
- Numbness or a heavy feeling in the jaw
What are the causes?
- Radiation therapy
- Cytotoxic chemotherapy
- High-dose steroid therapy
- Medications that disrupt vascular supply or bone turnover in the jaws
- Jaw bone(Mandible) cancer
- Increasing age
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Vitamin D deficiency
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