Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs currently being used to treat a variety of medical conditions including, but not limited to, Osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, Multiple Myeloma and some types of cancer involving the bones. They may be given either orally, as Fosamax, Boniva or Actonel, or intravenously as Zometa. Reclast is another Bisphosphonate given as a once per year, as an intravenous infusion, to also treat Osteoporosis. Recently it has been recognized that patients taking monthly intravenous Zometa infusions are at greatly increased risk for a condition called Osteonecrosis of the Jaws(ONJ), especially following tooth extraction and require highly specialized management. Patients on oral Bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, Boniva or Actonel, or on yearly Recast infusions, while having some risk for ONJ, the condition occurs with much less frequency and usually with less serious consequences. If you are anticipating having an oral surgical procedure, be sure to inform your doctor about your medications so that appropriate preventative steps can be taken.
For patients taking Evista and Forteo, for osteoporosis, these drugs have a different mechanism of action and are not associated with Osteonecrosis of the Jaws. For a very detailed discussion of this condition, click on the link below.