4 Dental Health Issues You Should Look Out for When Approaching Menopause

Dentist Articles

When you go through menopause, the changing levels of hormones in your body can lead to all sorts of changes—including some in your mouth. It's important to keep an eye on your dental health as you enter this new stage of life. Specifically, you'll want to be on the lookout for these problems that may require treatment or management to prevent complications.

Dry Mouth

Lower levels of estrogen lead to decreased saliva production, which results in a dry mouth. Dry mouth is more than just an annoyance. It increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, so it's important to talk to your dentist if you think you may be suffering from it.

If your dry mouth symptoms are relatively minor and you're not showing any signs of gum disease or tooth decay, your dentist may recommend some simple strategies to keep your mouth moist throughout the day:

  • Chewing sugar-free gum (chewing stimulates the release of saliva)
  • Sipping water throughout the day
  • Avoiding drying foods like crackers and bread

For more serious cases of dry mouth, your dentist may recommend a special gel or rinse that you can use after brushing to moisten your mouth and encourage saliva production.

Thin, Sensitive Gums

Another symptom of menopause is thinning gums. Your gums may begin to appear shiny and more translucent, and they might bleed easily when you brush or floss. These normal effects of menopause closely mimic the symptoms of gum disease. Thus, if you find that your gums start bleeding when you brush and are feeling sensitive, you should visit your dentist. He or she will make sure that what you're experiencing is a normal symptom of changing hormone levels and not a sign of gum disease.

Short of taking hormone replacement supplements, there's not a lot you can do for thinning gums besides treat them with care. Use a softer toothbrush, make sure you don't press to hard when brushing, and use stretchy, non-fibrous dental floss. Make sure you're also using an antiseptic rinse to prevent gum disease, since gum disease can quickly become very serious when you already have thin, sensitive gums.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

If you wake up one day and feel like you've just eaten something spicy, even though you know you haven't, do not panic. Chances are, you're suffering from what is known as burning mouth syndrome, a dental ailment that occurs most often in menopausal women. Scientists are not quite sure why menopause triggers this ailment. Sometimes the burning is isolated to the tongue, and other times it affects the lips, too. Some patients also experience an altered sense of taste or a feeling of numbness in their mouth.

If you're diagnosed with burning mouth syndrome, your dentist may prescribe a medication to help you deal with a pain. Often, burning mouth syndrome is associated with dry mouth, whether you can tell that your mouth is dry or not, and using sprays or gels to keep your mouth moist will help keep symptoms at bay. You'll also want to avoid smoking, spicy foods, and alcohol, as these can make symptoms worse.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay also becomes more common as women enter menopause. The changing levels of saliva production and hormones can allow oral bacteria to thrive, and the acids they produce eat away at the tooth enamel. Make sure you're seeing your dentist for regular checkups so that if you do experience any decay, it is caught early when it can be treated with a filling rather than an extraction or root canal. If you ever develop a tooth ache, a strange taste in your mouth that won't go away, or persistent bad breath, see your dentist as these are also signs of tooth decay.

Not all women experience dental changes during menopause. If you take hormone replacement supplements, your risk of these and other menopause-related symptoms will be lower than if you do not take hormone replacement supplements. As you approach menopause, be sure to look at this and talk to your dentist about these changes and what you should do to address them.


22 March 2016

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After dealing with a few root canals, I realized that it was time to take my dental hygiene a more seriously. I talked with my dentist about what I could do differently, and he was full of great suggestions that would help. He walked me through different ways to brush, floss, and take care of tartar buildup, and it was really amazing to see the difference that it made. I also started taking a fluoride supplement to strengthen my enamel. When I made it to my next appointment, my dentist was blown away with the improvement. This blog is all about improving your dental appointments by keeping your teeth healthier.