Menopause can be a time of tremendous anxiety for many women. As their bodies change and hormone levels rise and fall during menopause, there can be some unforeseen consequences. Many women only notice the outward changes that occur to their bodies but fail to look internally especially the changes that can occur in the mouth. These changes are quite natural but being informed can help you stay one step ahead and keep healthy through this time of change.
-Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). As a woman’s estrogen levels decrease it can lead to a drier mouth. Saliva is nature’s way of keeping our mouth clean and hydrated. Without sufficient amounts of saliva our teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal infections. Dry mouth can also come from many medications (prescriptions or over the counter) that are commonly prescribed as we get older.
-Menopausal Gingivostomatitis. This can occur to a very small percentage of women but can be very damaging. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red are hallmarks of this condition. Estrogen supplements are usually able to help to relieve these symptoms.
-Bone Density Changes. The decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk for loss of bone density. Loss of bone in the jaw area can lead to tooth loss. Gum recession can also be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. Receding gums also expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay by exposing more areas of the tooth to the acids in the mouth. Gingival grafting may be necessary to cover the receding areas.
-Change In Taste. This is especially true for salty, peppery or sour.
-Burning Mouth Syndrome. This can affect the tongue, gum tissues, lips, and possibly the tissues inside the cheeks of the mouth. The burning mouth sensation generally occurs from changes in taste and the sensory nerves in the mouth. It can also be caused as a result of dry mouth, poor nutrition, and even allergic reactions to food or drug. If you note any of these symptoms contact your dentist immediately for help in relieving the discomfort.
-Eating Disorders. Nutritional changes can occur from a woman’s change in her own body self image. These changes can lead to poor nutrition and improper eating habits. These changes can make our teeth more susceptiple to teeth damage.
-Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. This should include brushing 2x per day, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial rinse. This should also include regular dental visits for routine examinations and professional cleanings.
-Eat Properly. Maintaining good nutrition will help not only your oral health but your overall health as well.
-Salivary Supplements. These supplements can keep the oral tissues moist and make your mouth feel better throughout the day.
-Estrogen Supplements. While a controversial topic for many, the lowered estrogen levels are a main reason for the periodontal issues that arise going thru menopause.
Maintaining a healthy oral environment improves the quality of our lives especially as we get older. It is important for a woman to be aware of the changes happening in her body and to make the simple changes to keep on a healthy lifestyle path.