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The Premier Dental Radiology Experience

Systemic Disease Causing Changes in Bone

Dr. Barett Andreasen, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist

The formation, maintenance, and resorption of bone is a delicate process coordinated by a number of highly sophisticated pathways. Systemic diseases that affect these mechanisms can have a drastic effect on the composition of the bone, and in turn, the radiographic appearance as well. Because these diseases often affect the entire body, the radiographic changes manifested in the jaws are usually generalized and often nonspecific. The changes seen in the jaws frequently include the following:

  1. Change in the size and shape of the bone
  2. Change in the number, size and orientation of trabeculae
  3. Altered thickness and density of cortical structures
  4. Increase or decrease in overall bone density

An understanding of the radiographic features exhibited by such systemic diseases can assist in identifying previously undiagnosed conditions, which often significantly affects patient care and outcome. To help identify some of these conditions, I've included a table that summarizes the associated general findings in the jaws (just to keep the table simple, not all variations in presentation could be included). Changes in the dentition are also seen.

The table was modified from 'Oral Radiology - Principles and Interpretation' by Mallya and Lam.

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