Genes Play Big Role in Osteoporosis Medication Complications

Research links osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) to individuals with a specific genetic variation who take bisphosphonates. Los Angeles periodontist Dr. Alex Farnoosh comments on the study’s findings.

Beverly Hills, California (May 2012) – On the heels of an earlier study linking antiresorptive drugs to medication-induced osteonecrosis of the jaw, or ONJ, researchers at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine have found that a specific genetic variation can raise the risk of ONJ, notes Los Angeles periodontist Dr. Alex Farnoosh.

This news is paramount for dentists to better serve their patients by allowing them to be more vigilant in maintaining oral health of people with osteoporosis. ONJ can cause painful bone lesions that are difficult to treat and can lead to the loss of the entire jaw. As oral bisphosphonate medication therapies for osteoporosis become more common, this research can pave the way for genetic screening tests to discover which patients may be most at risk.

“Having seen the dangerous complications that ONJ causes, I am excited about these recent findings that give me and other dental professionals the chance to best treat our patients,” says Dr. Farnoosh, a periodontist in Beverly Hills.

The study was published online by the journal The Oncologist. The findings suggest that individuals with a specific genetic profile who also take oral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis are more susceptible to developing ONJ. Researchers analyzed a wide range of genetic traits in 30 participants who were taking antiresorptive drugs and also developed ONJ. They compared this population against those who were taking bisphosphonates and were unafflicted by ONJ. When examining the patients who had developed ONJ, the researchers also correlated the disease more often in individuals who had undergone complicated dental procedures or had dental disease.

In the United States, roughly 3 million women are on osteoporosis medications. Adding to this population, oncologists often use bisphosphonates via intravenous method to treat hypercalcemia and bone metastasis. These findings are essential to allow doctors and dental professionals to develop a genetic screening test in order to craft the best osteoporosis medication therapies and keep ONJ at bay.

“ONJ is a serious disease,” Dr. Farnoosh says. “The treatment of ONJ is extremely complicated. The lesions that develop on the jawbone are difficult to treat and can lead to loss of the entire jawbone. Putting my patients’ health first, this research is key to keeping them disease-free and smiling without worry.”

As a pioneer in the periodontal community, Dr. Farnoosh has developed advanced techniques in cosmetic dentistry to fix a gummy smile and a one-of-a-kind, same-day gum bleaching method. People from all over the world travel to Beverly Hills for his knowledge, care and treatment of mild to severe periodontal issues.

“As research progresses, reports like this can be a powerful ally to dental professionals to better manage their patients,” Dr. Farnoosh says.

A gum specialist, Dr. Farnoosh can help you find out what it’s like to smile with total confidence. Request an appointment or call (310) 657-0503 to set up a consultation