Bisphosphonate Induced Osteochemonecrosis of the Jaws: An Ounce of Prevention May be Worth a Pound of Cure

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Patient exposure to bisphosphonate drugs for the management of hypercalcemia of malignancy, osteolytic lesions of metastatic cancer and osteoporosis has led to increasing reports of osteochemonecrosis of the jaws (bis-phossy jaw). This serious and debilitating condition requires dental practitioners to be alert for signs and symptoms of this syndrome. Thus far, nitrogen containing bisphosphonates have been implicated as a causative agent. While only a small fraction of patients who have taken these agents will develop osteochemonecrosis, it seems that patients who have received intravenous bisphosphonates are at greater risk than those who have taken oral agents. Tooth extractions are the most frequently reported predisposing dental procedure. While appropriate management strategies for patients with osteochemonecrosis of the jaws are evolving, we are suggesting rational preventive protocols and therapies based upon current experience and knowledge. These recommendations may change over time as the profession gains more experience in managing these patients.

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