Fosamax Side Effects – Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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Fosamax, along with other bisphosphonates, can cause Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), also known as Dead Jaw. Fosamax’s action to prevent bone from repairing itself in the normal way can cause death of the tissue in the jawbone, and eventual disintegration of the bone itself. The first symptom of ONJ is often the exposure of discolored areas of the jawbone.

The primary risk factors for ONJ are:
1) Taking bisphosphonates, in IV form or by tablet, for a long period of time;
2) Using steroids with bisphosphonates;
3) A previous history of cancer, osteoporosis, or Paget’s disease;
4) Dental procedures such as extractions or dental implants.

People who take bisphosphonates intravenously as part of chemotherapy for cancer treatment are more likely to develop ONJ, at least in the short term. The damage from ONJ in those situations is usually so severe that the bone doesn’t recover. People who take bisphosphonates orally in products like Fosamax develop ONJ less frequently, though long-term use Fosamax may result in higher rates. When ONJ develops from the bisphosphonates taken orally can sometimes be treated and reversed. It’s important to be aware of ONJ as a possible Fosamax side effect.

You should always inform your dentist if you have taken bisphosphonates in any form, particularly if you need to have an invasive treatment like an extraction. It may be best to stop taking bisphosphonates before having those procedures. You should discuss this with your dentist. It’s also important to practice very careful oral hygiene, see your dentist regularly, and get help immediately if you have pain or any difficulty with your jawbone.

Check out the following articles for more information about Fosamax, filing a Fosamax lawsuit and finding a Fosamax attorney.

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