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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2004
Total Posts : 693
   Posted 10/10/2004 6:11 PM (GMT -7)   

Bone Drugs and Dental Work Don't Mix

FDA, Novartis Warn About Jaw Damage in Some Patients


Article date: 2004/10/05 

Cancer patients taking certain bone drugs called bisphosphonates may develop a severe form of bone damage in the jaw if they get major dental work during their therapy, the FDA and a drug company said this week. Novartis Oncology said patients taking certain drugs called bisphosphonates should avoid invasive dental work, if possible.



Novartis manufactures the bisphosphonates Aredia (pamidronate disodium) and Zometa (zoledronic acid). It sent letters to doctors late last month advising them that some cancer patients on these drugs had experienced osteonecrosis of the jaw. This condition disrupts the blood supply to the bone, causing tiny breaks that can eventually lead to a total collapse of the bone.


Many of the patients who developed problems were taking chemotherapy and corticosteroids in addition to the bone drugs, and many had signs of infection in the jaw, the company said.


Having major dental work, like a tooth extraction, may contribute to the problem, Novartis said. Most of the cancer patients who developed osteonecrosis of the jaw had also had some type of dental work.


The FDA and Novartis said patients should consider having a dental exam and any needed procedures before beginning therapy with bisphosphonates. If possible, patients should avoid invasive dental procedures while getting treatment. It is not known whether stopping the drugs will prevent the problem if a patient needs dental work during therapy.


Cancer and certain of its treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, corticosteroids) are already well-known risk factors for osteonecrosis of the jaw, Novartis said. Other problems like anemia, blood clotting disorders, infection, and mouth diseases can also raise the risk.




ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news 

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 214
   Posted 10/10/2004 10:25 PM (GMT -7)   
I bet that is a reason my jaws hurt so much. Not that I am on those meds right now, but it said just treatment in general could cause jaw pain or something to that effect? But then again, I clinch my teeth alot. I try not too, but I don't notice until my jaws start to hurt. And then that gives you headaches. HHHMMMM.........osteonecrosis......never heard of it. But I will bring it up when I see them next. B/c I was going to get a mouth piece or something for the night b/c I really clinch them then.

Thanks for the info.

*Just keep swimming*   Dory....Finding Nemo

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 10/11/2004 3:59 AM (GMT -7)   
Shells, I have had a mouth piece for about 10 years, and can't sleep without it. I am a bad clencher, and we discovered it when at age 23, I had 2 teeth that both required root canals. Seems I was hitting them too hard and, and when I clench, I also rock my jaw a little. I have had no problems since getting it, other then wearing it down too much! It helps a lot for me.


Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2003
Total Posts : 248
   Posted 10/11/2004 5:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Ladies, don't panic! The key words in the article are"bone damage in the jaw if they have major dental work during therapy". That means an invasive procedure such as a root canal, extraction or dental implants. Simple, routine procedures that do not involve contamination of the bone such as cleanings or fillings should not be of concern. Certainly, if you are taking aredia or zometa you need to inform your dentist before any dental treatment. Shells, your symptoms are classic for TMJ and a night guard may certainly help. Your dentist should be able to determine that and make you one. Hugs, Frayda
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