Postmenopausal females and the link between oral bisphosphonates and osteonecrosis of the jaw: A clinical review

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Purpose:To increase awareness for nurse practitioners (NPs) of new information concerning the plausible link between the oral bisphosphonate drug classification and necrosis in the jaw.Data sources:Selected research and clinical articles. In addition, several peer-reviewed, refereed medical and dental journals were consulted.Conclusions:Oral bisphosphonates are commonly prescribed by NPs for postmenopausal females with the diagnosis of osteoporosis to arrest bone loss and preserve bone density. Recent reports have shown a link between these medications and osteonecrosis of the jaw, which is a complication resulting in necrotic bone inside the mouth.Implications for practice:NPs must be able to determine early warning signs of osteonecrosis to ensure prompt referral to a dental specialist in order to prevent irreversible sequelae. Because of the aging population, osteoporosis is predicted to increase; therefore, treatment with these drugs and the side effects that go along with them will most likely also increase.

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