Findings on dental panoramic radiographs (DPRs) have shown that mandibular cortical index (MCI) based on the morphology of mandibular inferior cortex was significantly correlated with osteoporosis. MCI on DPRs can be categorized into one of three groups and has the high potential for identifying patients with osteoporosis. However, most DPRs are used only for diagnosing dental conditions by dentists in their routine clinical work. Moreover, MCI is not generally quantified but assessed subjectively. In this study, we investigated a computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system that automatically classifies mandibular cortical bone for detection of osteoporotic patients at early stage. First, an inferior border of mandibular bone was detected by use of an active contour method. Second, regions of interest including the cortical bone are extracted and analyzed for its thickness and roughness. Finally, support vector machine (SVM) differentiate cases into three MCI categories by features including the thickness and roughness. Ninety eight DPRs were used to evaluate our proposed scheme. The number of cases classified to Class I, II, and III by a dental radiologist are 56, 25 and 17 cases, respectively. Experimental result based on the leave-one-out cross-validation evaluation showed that the sensitivities for the classes I, II, and III were 94.6%, 57.7% and 94.1%, respectively. Distribution of the groups in the feature space indicates a possibility of MCI quantification by the proposed method. Therefore, our scheme has a potential in identifying osteoporotic patients at an early stage.