The Menopause And Oral Health

Once rarely talked about, this stage of life can affect many things, including your oral health

The menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 in women, although it can occur earlier. It usually starts around a year after the last period finishes and can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms for many. Issues such as sleep problems, profuse sweating and negative emotions and low energy are not uncommon. It can be a challenging period which can be helped somewhat by going to see your GP.

One less discussed aspect of the menopause is the effect that it can have on your oral health. Most of the problems can be resolved or at least managed by making sure that you have your oral health monitored by one of the team at our Eltham dentist. In today’s blog, we will take a look at some of the oral health issues that can arise during this period of a woman’s life.

Bone density

During this period, bone density can start to decrease as the level of oestrogen in the body decreases. While this problem is better known for the increase in falls and damage caused by doing so, the decrease in bone density also affects the jawbone too. A healthy jawbone is important for the stability of your teeth and a reduction in density may cause some teeth to become loose and potentially fall out. Gum disease is also more likely when this occurs.

Dry mouth

Hormonal changes at this time can sometimes cause the mouth to become drier. As we have discussed in our blogs about gum disease, this lack of saliva is a problem for our oral health and raises the likelihood of gum disease. Saliva plays an important role in flushing away food and bacteria particles.  Reduced flow then, may increase problems such as gum disease and tooth decay among other things. Making sure you drink enough water is important and your GP may also be able to help with the problem.

Gum disease

We have already touched on some of this in the previous two sections but hormonal changes also mean that the gums may become more sensitive and prone to inflammation and bleeding. Taking good care of them at home with diligent brushing and flossing is very important and, if you don’t already do so, you should make sure to book yourself in to see the hygienist at AR Smiles every six months, or more frequently if they recommend this.

‘Burning mouth’

This can occur at any time but seems to be more common during the menopause. There is a lack of certainty about why this occurs but it is thought that both hormonal changes and increased dry mouth might be a cause.

Hormonal fluctuations

If the hormone changes were consistent, it would perhaps be easier to manage the more unpleasant symptoms that can occur at this time, but unfortunately they often tend to fluctuate. This can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms in the mouth such as soreness, increased sensitivity and changes in the makeup of the mucus in the mouth.

Stress effects

The menopause may lower some women’s moods and may cause them to become more stressed. This is a problem in itself of course but can also lead to the use of alcohol, cigarettes and even more sugary drinks to relieve it. Unfortunately, this isn’t a solution and may serve to exaggerate some of the problems already mentioned.

Both alcohol and smoking are bad for your oral health and using sugary drinks, even to help you to stay hydrated, may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Water is your friend when it comes to rehydration.

What can be done?

Seeing your GP is a good place to start. They may discuss options such as HRT with you to help you through this part of your life. As far as your oral health goes, you can make a significant contribution by looking after your teeth and gums as well as you can at home. Brushing and flossing are essential of course, and given the increased likelihood of a dry mouth, it is also important to make sure that you are drinking enough water to help to counteract this.

If you are at this stage of your life, please do discuss this with one of our Eltham dentists and please do not feel embarrassed to do so. Our dentists are trained for all aspects of oral health care and will have some knowledge in this area and may be able to offer advice that will help. It will also enable them to monitor the health of your teeth and gums, and especially areas of your oral health that might be affected by the menopause.

If you feel that you are suffering because of this, or for any other dental related reason, and would like to book an appointment to see the dentist or the hygienist, you can do so by calling AR Smiles today on 020 8856 7759.

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