Osteonecrosis of the Jaw and Bisphosphonate Therapy

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

Osteonecrosis of the jaw (dead bone) can occur when the blood supply to the upper and lower jaws is compromised and by a problem with the bone’s ability to regrow. Some researchers suggest that bisphosphonate drugs lessen the body’s ability to resorb bone (osteoclastic inhibition). This is a process that naturally takes place in order to allow the formation of new bone cells (osteoblasts). When the ability to remodel and grow new bone is impaired, blood flow through the bone can be reduced or stopped. This results in bone loss, bone spurs and pieces of dead bone breaking loose. The soft tissues around that bone and within the bone itself, which depend on that blood flow for health, also begin to die (or fail to heal). Most patients diagnosed with BRONJ have taken IV bisphosphonates for cancer, although cases have been reported in post-menopausal women on Oral Bisphosphonates.