Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs in women usually between the ages of 45 and 55 when they stop menstruating and are no longer able to conceive. Menopause impacts dental health because hormonal changes have various effects on the body during this time.
Fortunately, there are two things you can do to maintain a healthy smile: become more aware of the potential menopause-related complications, and stay dedicated to proper oral hygiene.
Menopause Can Impact Dental Health—But So Can You With These Suggestions
Hormonal fluctuations prompt numerous issues during menopause and it’s hard to know for certain which ones will cause more problems down the road. Surprisingly, your dental health is affected in a variety of ways, so here’s what you should know about some of the most common conditions.
Reduced estrogen levels can cause changes in saliva production, leading to xerostomia, also known as dry mouth. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by neutralizing acids, washing away food particles, and protecting teeth against decay. Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Hormonal changes during menopause can make the gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation. Increased gum inflammation may lead to gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can result in gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Some women might experience a burning sensation or altered taste in their mouth during menopause. This condition is known as burning mouth syndrome and may also be linked to hormonal changes.
Bone Density and Tooth Loss
Declining estrogen levels during menopause can result in decreased bone density. Lack of bone density might affect the jawbone, potentially leading to tooth loss. Weakened jawbone support may contribute to the loosening and shifting of teeth. Osteoporosis, a common condition related to decreased bone density, further increases the risk of tooth instability.
Maintaining Good Dental Health During Menopause
Here are some simple lifestyle habits you can embrace to keep your beautiful smile radiant during this time and beyond.
- Practice excellent oral hygiene, including brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water to help combat dry mouth.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and beverages that can contribute to tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and professional cleanings.
Menopause symptoms vary considerably for each woman. However, if you experience any changes in your oral health, don’t hesitate to reach out to a dentist who can assess what you’re experiencing and provide compassionate care.