Preventive dental care can reduce ONJ risk

Preventive dental care can reduce the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) for patients who are about to undergo bisphosphonate therapy, according to a new study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute of Milan in Italy.

The study included 966 cancer patients, 25% of whom were given zoledronic acid (ZOL), 62% pamidronate (PAM), 8% PAM followed by ZOL, and 5% clodronate (Annals of Oncology, July 22, 2008).

"We observed a reduction in the incidence of ONJ from 3.2% to 1.3%, when comparing pre- and postimplementation of preventive measures program," the authors noted.

Among patients exposed to ZOL, a dental exam and preventive measures led to a reduction in ONJ from 7.8% to 1.7%.

"ONJ is a manageable and preventable condition. Our data confirm that the application of preventive measures can significantly reduce the incidence of ONJ in cancer patients receiving [bisphosphonates] therapy," the authors wrote.

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