Recently, over 1,000 women completed a survey commissioned by Delta Dental which revealed that an astounding 84% of women aged 50 and over are unaware that some of the oral health symptoms and discomfort they experience could be related to menopause.
The Missed Connection Between Menopause and Oral Health
70% of the women surveyed who have begun experiencing menopausal symptoms say they have noticed at least one of the following oral health symptoms:
Reduced Saliva Production. Lower levels of estrogen and dry mouth can cause a decrease in saliva flow. Dry mouth may not sound serious, however, the long-term effects of decreased saliva flow in oral health over time can be devastating. Dry mouth decreases the body’s ability to fight off minor infections or maintain a healthy balance of useful and harmful bacteria within the mouth. Painful oral symptoms are frequently associated with reduced saliva.
Burning Mouth. Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) affects menopausal women seven times more than it affects men. Burning mouth is described as a burning sensation affecting different areas of the oral cavity, including the tongue, palate, lips and areas of denture support.
Tooth Crowding or Loss. Menopause affects the density of bones throughout the body, including the jawbone, thereby reducing the stronghold the jaw has on teeth.
Swollen, Irritated Gums. When your hormone levels change, your gums can get swollen and irritated. During these hormonal changes, your gums may be more susceptible to bleeding, because your body’s immune system is more sensitive than usual. This can cause inflammation (redness, swelling and sometimes pain) in the gums.
Tooth Decay and Gum Disease. The many hormonal changes that take place during menopause make the teeth and gums more susceptible to plaque. This leads to a much higher risk for tooth decay, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and advanced gum disease.
Despite experiencing these common symptoms, most women didn’t associate them with hormone shifts. Based on the survey, 39% said they experienced dry mouth, of those, 77% were not aware dry mouth can be related to menopause. Lack of awareness was even higher among other symptoms.
Maintain Your Oral Health During Menopause
For all menopausal women, practicing adequate oral hygiene is crucial. Here are the keys to maintaining your oral health during menopause:
Step up your oral health care routine at home.
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, paying extra attention to the gum lines and hard-to-reach areas, and floss at least once a day.
- Use an antimicrobial mouth wash to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque and help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
Keep track of your symptoms. Be aware of the symptoms of menopause and how they can affect your oral health. Watching out for the symptoms of dry mouth is essential to protecting your oral health. Ask yourself these questions:
- Has the surface of my tongue changed in appearance?
- Does my tongue appear cracked or dry?
- Is my tongue dry to the touch?
- Are my lips sticking to teeth more often?
- Am I producing less saliva?
Stay Hydrated. Keeping saliva flowing and the proper pH balance in your mouth is important to oral health. Water is the next best thing to saliva, so drink water! Keeping hydrated will help buffer the oral environment and keep the pH balance of your mouth controlled.
Communicate with your dentist. Keeping a healthy, youthful-looking mouth during menopause and beyond will depend on clear communication about any symptoms you’re having with your dentist. Be sure to let them know about all medications you are taking as well.
Maintain a healthy diet. Consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium and Vitamin D. Limit alcohol, caffeine, sugary snacks or beverages and overly salty foods.
Manage Stress. High levels of stress can exacerbate oral health issues. Practice your favorite stress-reduction technique or pick-p a new one, such as yoga or meditation, to benefit both your oral health and your overall well-being.Leave a reply →