Get a Dental X-Ray for Your Bones

A computer program that analyzes routine dental X-rays could offer a simple, cheap way to detect the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, new research suggests.

British researches found that a software program they developed was able to spot signs of declining bone density in dental X-rays for the lower jaw, a potential sign of osteoporosis.

The findings, they report, suggest that routine dental X-rays could provide an inexpensive way to provide wide screening of older adults for osteoporosis. Those with signs of bone thinning n the jaw could be referred for more expensive osteoporosis testing. Many people with the disease, most often older women, don’t know they have osteoporosis until they suffer a fracture. The DXA tests found osteoporosis in the hip or spine in 140 women. Analysis of dental X-rays picked up more than half of these cases, the researches found.