Working Towards a Solution

Tara Aghaloo at the Implant CenterModern dentistry and oral health research have revolutionized our understanding — and treatment — of oral and systemic health. However, as drug therapy treatments become more effective and more potent, some side effects can cause severe complications for patients. A problematic side effect of bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to prevent the loss of bone and treat osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer, is osteonecrosis of the jaw (also known as ONJ). This devastating condition results in exposed, dead bone in the mouth, and consequently a loss of teeth.

 
With the first case of ONJ reported just a decade ago, little is known about why patients develop the condition and how medical practitioners are able to combat it. Faculty from UCLA School of Dentistry are combining their clinical and research expertise in oral maxillofacial surgery and radiology to study the causes of ONJ and are trying to work towards a solution to treat this condition. Among the first to report the occurrence of ONJ in patients treated with Denosumab, a drug that, like bisphosphonates, inhibits bone loss is Dr. Tara Aghaloo, Associate Professor and oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Dr. Aghaloo, considered an expert on this condition, maintains an active clinical practice, where she regularly sees hundreds of ONJ patients. 
 
At the School of Dentistry we will continue to explore the effects of bisphosphonates and other bone loss treatments, and to formulate a better understanding of the causes and treatment of ONJ. 
 
BY COMBINING WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH WITH THE EXPERTISE OF OUR FACULTY-CLINICIANS, A SOLUTION TO THE DAMAGING SIDE EFFECTS OF THERAPEUTIC DRUGS IS ON THE HORIZON.