The jaw is any opposable articulated structure at the entrance of the mouth, typically used for grasping and manipulating food. The term jaws is also broadly applied to the whole of the structures constituting the vault of the mouth and serving to open and close it and is part of the body plan of most animals.
In arthropods, the jaws are chitinous and oppose laterally, and may consist of mandibles or chelicerae. These jaws are often composed of numerous mouthparts. Their function is fundamentally for food acquisition, conveyance to the mouth, and/or initial processing (mastication or chewing). Many mouthparts and associate structures (such as pedipalps) are modified legs.
Breast cancer patients, individuals at risk for osteoporosis, and individuals undergoing certain types of bone cancer therapies often take drugs that contain bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates may place patients at risk for developing osteonecrosis of the jaws (a rotting of the jaw bones), according to a case report and literature review that appeared in the May/June 2006 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.
Bisphosphonates are a family of drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, multiple myeloma, Paget's disease (bone cancers), and bone metastasis from other cancers. These drugs can bond to bone surfaces and prevent osteoclasts (cells that breakdown bone) from doing their job.
In their report, the authors refer to the case of a woman who received bisphosphonate therapy intravenously to treat metastatic breast cancer. She then developed osteonecrosis in her upper and lower jaws following tooth removal.
"It is strongly recommended that patients scheduled to receive bisphosphonate therapy should visit a dentist or an oral surgeon so problematic teeth can be treated prior to the start of therapy," the authors state.
Tips to reduce the risk for osteonecrosis of the jaw and maintain a healthy mouth:
* Inform your general dentist or specialist if you are taking bisphosphonates.