Many women rely on medication to help prevent or treat bone loss or osteoporosis. These medications are called bisphosphonates and are commonly marketed as Fosamax, Boniva, and Actonel.
Use of these medications has been linked to cases of jaw bone decay / death or osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).
Since 2001, more than 2,400 patients have reported bone death in their jaws after taking a medication to prevent or treat bone loss. Most of these patients were taking potent, intravenously delivered forms of the drugs.
Additionally, 120 people who were taking the drugs in pill form have suffered from such debilitating pain that they have become bedridden or in need of walkers, crutches or wheelchairs.
Since about 90% of drug side effects are never reported to the FDA, the total number of people suffering from these types of side effects may be much higher.
What is Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) & Dead Jaw
Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) occurs when the jaw does not heal after minor surgery that causes the bone to be exposed. ONJ can cause severe infections, swelling and loosening of the teeth. Often, the dying bone tissue must be treated with long-term antibiotic therapy or be removed during surgery. Patients taking Fosamax or other bisphosphonates should avoid having major dental work while they are on the medication due to increased risk of ONJ.
Unfortunately, biphosphonates drastically increase the level of phosphorus in the body to the point that conditions such as Dead Jaw occur fairly regularly. Victims generally develop severe abscesses around the mouth, painful toothaches, and in the most extreme cases the jaw bones begin to rot away or become useless. In most cases there is visible swelling around the mouth, and often the abscesses in the jaw fill with putrid, foul smelling fluid which makes simple human interaction virtually impossible.
Fosamax and other bisphosphonates are typically prescribed to women who are post-menopausal to prevent or treat osteoporosis. They are also used in cancer patients whose disease has spread to the bone causing severe bone pain or fractures. These medications work by inhibiting osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, making the bones thicker and less likely to break. A reason that bisphosphonates may sometimes do the opposite of their intended effect is that osteoclasts prompt osteoblasts, the cells that build up bone, to form.
Fosamax is a bisphosphonate drug designed to prevent the bone disease osteoporosis in postmenopausal women Both men and women who developed osteoporosis due to outside causes such as corticosteroids or natural causes often use Fosamax to treat their osteoporosis. The drug is taken orally in either pill form or a fluid suspension that must be taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to lose density and strength as they age, and it affects almost 44 million people in the United States. Most of the people are women over the age of 55, but the disease can strike virtually anyone at any age. Fosamax helps rebuild and strengthen weakened bones to prevent potentially life-threatening breaks and fractures.
There are a number of considerations people who use Fosamax must understand before they take their medication. The Fosamax tablet must be taken whole with a full glass of water, and the patient must wait a full 30 minutes before eating, drinking, or taking any other medication. Fosamax helps control osteoporosis and Paget’s disease, but cannot cure them.
Fosamax, manufactured by Merck, has been linked to the serious bone disease ONJ. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning letter to health professionals to alert them to the link between medications like Fosamax and ONJ.
Fosamax Side Effects
Unfortunately, Fosamax causes a number of potentially serious side effects. Like many other osteoporosis drugs, Fosamax can cause a great deal of gastrointestinal distress including nausea, stomach pain, and constipation. In rare circumstances it can result in Osteonecrosis of the jaw, or what is commonly referred to “dead jaw.” Dead Jaw causes the bones in the jaw to swell, severely affecting the ability of the individual to eat, speak, and swallow.
When a dentist removes a tooth, the empty socket will begin to heal and cover the exposed bone. In some cases people who take Fosamax and under routine procedures like tooth extraction suffer grievous injury because their bone fails to heal properly. In some cases, people have had to endure months of painful exposed bone for months after their procedures.
Even though teeth are some of the strongest parts of the human body, they are still susceptible to damage and disease. In some cases, dentists need to entirely remove a tooth in order to preserve the overall oral health. Fortunately, the jaw is relatively resilient, and can accommodate tooth extraction with relative ease. Tooth extraction is usually recommended in cases of extreme impaction, decay, or for other orthodontic treatments such as braces.
Unfortunately, medications like Fosamax can weaken the body’s natural healing processes. When a dentist removes a tooth, the empty socket will begin to heal and cover the exposed bone. In some cases people who take Fosamax and under routine procedures like tooth extraction suffer grievous injury because their bone fails to heal properly.