Oral Health Concerns for Post-Menopausal Women

Life after menopause is a challenge. And, if there weren’t enough things to fret over, your oral health is yet another. Managing these concerns is possible though – it just requires a bit of advanced knowledge, and informed communication with your dentist and physician. We'll help you stay on top of what you need to know.

Loss of bone in the oral cavity: It’s unclear as to why some women experience a loss of bone tissue in the oral cavity, but a decrease in hormones is the suspected culprit. A past history with gingivitis and periodontal disease is another reason often considered relevant. As such, in order to avoid losing teeth as you age, you'll want to maintain regular visits with your dentist will ensure you catch these problems early.

Burning mouth syndrome: Fortunately, only 1% of the population experiences symptoms related to “burning mouth.” Unfortunately, peri- and post-menopausal women are more present in this 1% than other groups. Treatment can include nutritional supplements, the adjustment of dentures and other oral appliances, and nerve stimulation if the cause is believed to be nerve-related. But the answer to the cause and proper treatment remain elusive.

Xerostomia: Because menopause adversely affects salivary flow, it's important to be cognizant of ongoing case of Xerostomia (the technical name for dry mouth). Doing so can help you prevent the eventual buildup of tartar below the gumline that will contribute to gingivitis and, potentially, periodontitis.

Gingivitis and periodontitis: Speaking of gum disease, women taking estrogen supplements during and after menopause are generally considered to be less at risk for gingivitis or periodontitis, than women not pursuing hormone therapy.  So, taking care of your mouth, visiting the dentist, and being aware of a dry mouth are keys to keeping you gum-disease free. 

The dips in progesterone and estrogen that accompany menopause affect every woman differently. And for those who pursue hormone therapy, perhaps less still. Yet, it’s important to remember that menopause’s sibling is age, and with an increase in years comes very similar problems. Menopause can heighten these problems, but staying on top of symptoms and keeping your communication lines open with your doctor and dentist will help keep you ahead of the curve when it comes to your health.

April Peyer, RDH

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Oral Health Concerns for Post-Menopausal Women