Woman with neck pain

As we age, our bodies undergo changes that can increase the risk of certain health issues. One of those conditions is osteoporosis — a type of bone disease that affects about 10 million people in the United States alone (via the National Osteoporosis Foundation). The disease is characterized by low bone density and a decline in the ability to rebuild bone as quickly as you lose it. As the condition progresses, the bones become weaker and more susceptible to fractures (per MedlinePlus).

Those with the highest risk of developing osteoporosis are adult women over 50. However, one in four men aged 50 or older is expected to break a bone due to osteoporosis (per the National Osteoporosis Foundation). Osteoporosis is referred to as a "silent disease" because many people don’t realize they have it until they actually break a bone. However, paying attention to warning signs can help you catch osteoporosis earlier and manage the symptoms to potentially avoid injuries and irreversible bone damage. Here are some signs that may indicate a loss of bone density resulting from osteoporosis.

Jaw joint issues

Man with jaw joint pain

Although many people may associate osteoporosis with hip and wrist fractures, the disease can affect other bones and joints in the body (per WebMD). Osteoporosis causes bones to become more fragile and shrink over time, which also impacts the supportive bone structures in the mouth and jaw.

A recent study featured in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology noted that people with osteoporosis often experience issues with the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and may have limited jaw functionality, including locked jaw and clicking, pain, tenderness, and stiffness of the jaw.

While jaw pain and other jaw joint issues can have many causes that are not necessarily a significant cause for concern, those with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis who are experiencing TMJ issues should contact their dentist or healthcare professional — especially if they have no prior history of jaw problems. It’s worth getting to the bottom of the issue and ruling out low bone density if possible. If you find that you have low bone mineral density, you can work with your doctor to manage the effects of bone loss and prevent osteoporosis.

Receding gums

Receding gums from periodontal disease

Although a receding gumline might not seem as if it could be related to osteoporosis, it could be a red flag signifying the presence of low bone density. According to a research review published in the Journal of Dentistry of Tehran University of Medical Sciences, there appears to be a relationship between osteoporosis and the occurrence of periodontal disease, which is an advanced form of gum disease that can potentially spread to the tissue beneath the teeth, including the jaw bone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to an article in Current Osteoporosis Reports, as the jaw bone starts to deteriorate and lose density from osteoporosis, individuals may experience tooth loss and deeper periodontal pockets, which is space created between a tooth and the gumline where bacteria can grow. Receding gums are a common sign of periodontal disease (via CDC). And given the evidence of a correlation between gum health and osteoporosis, identifying receding gums and discussing a possible connection to your bone health with a healthcare professional is vital.

Broken brittle fingernail
Elderly man with back pain
Senior woman with muscle weakness
Man falls from balance issues
Senior woman exercising grip strength
Doctor explaining height loss
Woman with kyphosis poor posture
Woman holding chest and breathing