What I Learned At the Dentist

On Christmas Eve, I broke a tooth – very good timing! I have very limited dental coverage and it will not pay for crowns. My dentist said it would be about $600 for me to fix the tooth, so I opted to have it pulled – at least my insurance will pay 40% of that. I had an appointment on Monday to get it pulled.

When the dentist came in the room, one of the first things that he asked me was if I had ever taken Fosamax. In 2003, I had a bone density test after having several unexplained broken bones. I found out that I had osteopenia, which is the precursor to osteoporosis. My PCP put me on Fosamax. Before I moved away from the Harrisburg area in 2005, I was at the doctors one day and he must have just had a visit from the Fosamax sales guy because he gave me a big supply of Fosamax samples. After I moved, my insurance did not cover Fosamax. I had enough of the samples that I did not worry about it and continued taking it until 2006. By the time I ran out, I was up to my ears in foot problems so I did not bother trying to find out what my insurance would cover.

When the dentist asked me if I had ever taken Fosamax, I said yes but it had been several years since I have ever taken it. He proceeded to inform me that Fosamax and other bisphosphonate drugs can cause bone healing problems. Then he also said that it has a half life of 100 years – meaning that half of it will be out of my system in 100 years. He gave me a prescription for a rinse to help the bone heal.

As soon as I got home, I immediately sat down at my computer and Googled Fosamax. My dentist was partially right – not that I would ever question something a doctor would say! It causes bone healing problems. It can also cause bone pain that starts several years after you stop taking it. I have read several numbers for the half life, with the most common being 10 years, but I did find one site that said 80 years. Even at 10 years, it is still in my system.

I do know that Fosamax can cause stomach issues. I did have stomach issues because of it. If I knew about the bone problems at the time, I certainly don’t remember reading that. Who would have ever thought to look up problems about a drug that you haven’t take in years.
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