A Review of Pharmaceutical Agents and Oral Bone Health: How Osteonecrosis of the Jaw Has Affected the Field
Matthew R. Allen, PhD/Salvatore L. Ruggiero, MD, DMD
Just a decade ago, the outlook appeared limitless for the use of bisphosphonates for the treatment of a large number of metabolic bone diseases ranging from osteoporosis to cancer-related bone alterations to oral bone loss. Soon thereafter, however, osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) emerged as a rare but significant condition associated with bisphosphonate treatment. Although many questions remain concerning ONJ, some significant knowledge has been gained over the past decade. Ideas have emerged regarding how to stage and treat the condition, and a number of preclinical models have been developed that will soon begin to speed progress toward understanding the pathophysiology of this condition. Researchers have also discovered that ONJ is not specific to bisphosphonates, as other potent antiremodeling agents have now been associated with the condition. While antiremodeling agents remain essential tools in medicine, ONJ has somewhat slowed the momentum for this drug class, especially as it relates to new and emerging applications. Until more effective prevention or treatment regimens for ONJ are developed, this side effect of remodeling suppression will continue—for better or worse—to have a significant impact on the field. One potential treatment option may be in the form of osteoanabolics. Exciting new data have emerged demonstrating the efficacy of teriparatide (parathyroid hormone) in reversing oral cavity bone loss and even as a potential therapy for ONJ.