Menopause: the impact on oral healthMarch 11, 2020 6:00 am
All women know that when it comes to life changes – the menopause is right there at the top! However, in the long list of health implications the menopause brings with it, there’s no need to let dental worries feature on that list.
- What is menopause?
The menopause happens to all women, typically in your 50s but sometimes earlier or later. It’s when the ovaries stop producing eggs and oestrogen levels drop, causing periods to stop as well. It’s a natural part of life but, unfortunately, it often brings a few inconveniences with it. Along with hot flushes, mood swings, and insomnia, menopause makes you more susceptible to teeth and gum problems. that’s because the hormone changes makes your mouth drier and can affect bone density.
- How does it affect my teeth and gums?
As well as a lack of saliva, the change in hormones can affect your taste buds, meaning that you crave sugary foods that are bad for your teeth. Combined with a drier mouth, this can cause an accumulation of food particles and bacteria, leading to plaque build-up and even gum (periodontal) disease – where gums become red, inflamed, and pull away from teeth, giving bacteria a bigger boost.
Sometimes women also experience an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth, or a burning sensation. This could be a one-off or, unfortunately, for some women can become a regular event. Gums can also become more sensitive. The best way to deal with this is to drink lots of water to rinse out the mouth, and suck on ice chips to help alleviate any pain or burning. A reduction in estrogen can also lead to bone loss – known in severe cases as osteoporosis. This can affect the teeth and jaw bones just as much as other bones in your body – meaning tooth become loose, or can even be lost. It’s a good idea to see a healthcare professional to discuss options, as hormone therapy may help alleviate the bone loss.
Whether your menopausal symptoms are big or small, you should definitely talk through any dental concerns with your dentist. You will not be the first to have problems, and they might be able to suggest some simple changes to make life easier.
- What should I do now?
If you are pre-menopause, then it’s time to get yourself as healthy as possible. This will put you in a good place when the menopause does come along. Eat a healthy diet with lots of vitamin D (found in dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables), exercise regularly, and make sure you see the dentist every six months.
If you are going through menopause, then it’s a good idea to make a yearly periodontal appointment with your dentist such as Drs. Nicolas & Asp. The dentist can help keep a track of your dental health, and especially greater-risk conditions like gingivitis (early gum disease) and periodontitis (more progressed gum disease). They can also help with suggestions to relieve mouth pain or sensitivity.
Regardless of whether you are going through menopause or not, you should always keep a thorough dental hygiene routine. That means brushing for two minutes, morning and night. This is the best way to keep dental problems at bay. Make sure you invest in a good quality toothbrush that will help you keep teeth super-clean. And, be sure to visit the dentist at Drs. Nicolas & Asp every six months. Oral care should be a lifelong habit that will pay out dividends when you are older!
If you are post-menopause then you need to be more vigilant for tooth loss, as this is more likely at this time. Keep those six-monthly dental appointments with your dentist so they can help keep a track of your dental health.
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