Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Dental X-Rays May Warn of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis screening may be helped by dental X-rays, British dental experts report.
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 5, 2007 -- Osteoporosisscreening may be helped by dental X-rays, British dental experts report.

They've developed computer software that checks routine dental X-rays for possible warning signs of osteoporosis, in which bones become too thin and are more likely to fracture.

The software developers include Keith Horner, PhD, MSc. He's a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at England's University of Manchester.

Horner's team tested the software on 652 women aged 45-70 in Belgium, Greece, Sweden, and the U.K.

The women got bone densityscans of their hip and spine using a special type of X-ray called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

The women also got routine dental X-rays that were analyzed with the computer software.

The DEXA scans showed that 140 women had osteoporosis. The computerized dental X-ray analysis didn't flag all of those cases.

But the dental X-ray analysis showed that 119 women were candidates for further bone tests, which later showed that 72 of those women indeed had osteoporosis.

Tapping Useful Information

The dental X-ray software "should not been seen as a replacement" for DEXA, Horner tells WebMD in an email.

Instead, the software may help dentists note patients who might be candidates for further osteoporosis screening, based on their risk factors and medical history.

"The value of our method is that dentists take millions of these X-rays every year for ordinary dental reasons and they contain useful information that isn't being used," Horner says.

"People may be apparently healthy and never visit their family doctor, but often regularly go to their dentist for checkups."

Horner says the analysis could be done without the software, but not as well.

"The software does it automatically and is free from observer errors," Horner says.

The software isn't available yet.

"We are currently negotiating with an industrial partner to get the software out from the laboratory into the dental offices," Horner says.

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
senior woman
Woman holding plate of brocolli
wrist xray
Superfood for Bones
mature woman
sunlight in hands
man and woman in front of xray
woman with dumbbells