Author(s): Reinhardt RA
BACKGROUND: In Western societies, more than one-third of the female population above age 65 suffers from signs and symptoms of osteoporosis, a disorder characterized by low bone mass. Estrogen deficiency is the dominant pathogenic factor for osteoporosis in women. The impact of estrogen deficiency and osteopenia/osteoporosis on periodontitis is unclear, partially due to the lack of longitudinal studies evaluating clinical signs of gingival inflammation and periodontitis progression. The purpose of this investigation was to analyze prospectively the influence of serum estradiol levels and osteopenia/osteoporosis on common clinical measurements of periodontal disease over a 2-year period. METHODS: Fifty-nine moderate/advanced adult periodontitis patients and 16 non-periodontitis subjects, all within 5 years after menopause at baseline, completed the study. Serum estradiol levels (E2) were measured yearly by 125I radioimmunoassay, and osteopenia/osteoporosis was determined by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry of the lumbar spine. Posterior interproximal clinical measurements were obtained every 6 months for the periodontitis patients, including explorer-detectable supragingival plaque, bleeding on probing (BOP) and relative clinical attachment level (RCAL). Baseline probing depths, smoking history, and demographic data also were collected. RESULTS: Data indicated that baseline demographic measurements and bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine were not different between E2-deficient and E2-sufficient subjects. Smoking activity (packs smoked/day, years smoked) was higher in periodontitis patients (P=0.0001). E2-sufficient periodontitis subjects had a higher frequency of supragingival plaque without increasing gingival inflammation. E2 status did not influence the percentage of sites losing RCAL for either periodontitis or non-periodontitis groups, but when non-smoking osteopenic/osteoporotic periodontitis patients were evaluated, E2-deficient subjects had more BOP (43.8% versus 24.4%, P<0.04) and a trend toward a higher frequency of > or =2.0 mm RCAL loss (3.8% versus 1.2%, P<0.1) than E2-sufficient subjects. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that E2 supplementation (serum E2>40 pg/ml) is associated with reduced gingival inflammation and a reduced frequency of clinical attachment loss in osteopenic/osteoporotic women in early menopause.