Menopause can be defined as the phase in a woman’s life when she ceases to be fertile, and her menstrual cycles stop permanently. The process is entirely natural, and every woman goes through the same. However, it triggers drastic endocrine and biological changes that affect various parts of her body.
Changes in the hormone levels during the medical condition can cause dry mouth, altered taste, menopausal gingivostomatitis, bone loss, gum injury, burning tongue, and gum tissue recession. Here’re several points that highlight how menopause and dental health are interlinked.
The burning mouth syndrome
One of the most commonly highlighted symptoms during menopause is burning mouth syndrome. Patients often feel a burning sensation along with a bitter taste throughout the mouth. The burning sensation can be experienced in the throat, on the gums, the mouth’s roof, and inside of the cheeks as well. It comes and goes multiple times throughout the day and is probably caused due to nutritional deficiencies that women face during menopause.
A proper oral check-up is necessary to find the exact cause as it can also be a symptom of psychological problems, acid reflux, tongue thrusting, diabetes, or mouth-related disorders. As a temporary solution, opting for nutritional supplements can prove to be a good idea.
The burning mouth syndrome has a multifactorial nature and needs an organized approach to treatment. Besides dentists, the involvement of an endocrinologist, dermatologist, and ENT specialist may also be required. Nutritional supplements, pain managing medications, desensitizing agents, a high-fluid diet, and hormone replacement therapy might be necessary depending on the patient’s symptoms.
The hormonal changes triggered due to menopause result in mineral and vitamin deficiency further causing problems like a geographic tongue.
The cell, as well as the repair function of the tongue, gets weakened, and different-colored patches start appearing on the tongue. The patient experiences pain in various parts of the mouth. It turns sensitive to spicy foods, alcoholic as well as caffeine-laden drinks. It is advisable to avoid consuming anything too hot or too cold.
Dental care experts may recommend special mouthwashes, toothpaste, and zinc supplement to such patients.
Controlling the cravings for salty snacks
Women experience stress during the menopause period resulting in hormonal imbalance. Due to this, kidneys might end up excreting more salt. The patient may experience salt cravings in such situations, resulting in an uncontrollable desire to consume more salty snacks.
The salt-rich diet consists of sodium, and this can cause high blood pressure. Thus, dieticians recommend patients eat more anti-inflammatory foods containing lemon, basil, oregano, fennel, and fresh parsley.
Can menopause cause dry mouth?
Reduced levels of estrogen during menopause cause mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth to dry up. Thus, women experience a kind of dryness in the mouth. Chewing and swallowing food becomes difficult and takes a longer time.
Dry mouth is something that should not be ignored, and the patient must visit a dental clinic to check the reason behind the medical condition. Besides menopause, it can also be caused due to other pressing issues like Sjogren’s syndrome, blocked saliva duct, etc.
The burning sensation might be accompanied by taste loss in some patients. The hormone levels reduce the regrowth of the tongue’s taste buds resulting in temporary loss of taste.
Reduced saliva in the mouth is undoubtedly not a piece of good news because it increases oral microbial colonization. In the absence of saliva to keep a check on decay-causing germs, the chances of severe tooth decay also multiply.
Depending on the check-up results, your dentist may recommend oil-based supplements and other medications.
Does menopause affect teeth and gums?
A drop in estrogen levels further results in the loss of bone density. Even the jawbone remains prone to bone loss causing tooth loss and other dental issues. Gums start receding and become extremely sensitive. They may bleed due to brushing as well. The patient needs to approach the dentist without any delay for treatment and must inform the dental care expert about menopause so that menopause mouth symptoms treatment can be offered accordingly.
Long, loose teeth and exposed roots are the most common symptoms indicating receding gums. With time, the gum tissue loosens up and forms packets that collect bacteria. Thus, it requires immediate treatment. The dentists might recommend non-surgical procedures like deep cleaning, plaque removal, or surgical options like soft tissue graft, regeneration, and open flap scaling.
When it comes to the causes of receding gums menopause happens to be one of the top five reasons. Women who belong to the age group 47 to 55 need to give special attention to their oral health as hormonal changes harm oral health.
Gums also turn pale and dry due to the decreased blood flow during various phases of menopause. The concerned infection is known as menopausal gingivostomatitis.
Remember, ignoring gum diseases can leave the door open for oral cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart diseases.
The realities of womanhood
A woman’s day-to-day life may get substantially impacted due to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. The post-menopausal phase may not bring any ease as far as oral health is concerned. Results obtained from the Buffalo Osteoporosis and Periodontal Disease research work indicate that tooth loss is a common issue reported by women in their post-menopausal phase of life. Along with the bones in the legs and arms, post-menopause Osteoporosis can also result in jawbone loss and the formation of space between teeth.
For ensuring that your oral health remains on the right track, it is advisable to use fluoride-containing toothpaste and brush your teeth twice a day. Avoid sugary, salty snacks and go for a balanced diet. Opt for a dental check-up at least once every six months.
With timely treatment, all the oral health conditions caused due to menopause can be managed effectively. If you feel your oral health is degrading due to the link between menopause and teeth problems, you can always fix an appointment to discuss your oral health at TruCare Dentistry based in Roswell, GA.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the Effect of menopause on oral health:
Can menopause cause gum pain?
Yes, during menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone start to decrease. This impacts bone health and ultimately oral health. Bone loss in the jaw can cause gum pain and other issues like increased tooth sensitivity, loose teeth, and even tooth loss.
How do you keep your teeth healthy during menopause?
Menopausal women can protect their teeth by following a proper oral hygiene routine (brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day), maintaining a well-balanced and healthy diet, doing regular exercises, visiting a dentist regularly (twice a year), and consulting him/her about any effective treatments that may help with menopause teeth pain or dry mouth.
Can hormone imbalance cause gum disease?
Yes, bone loss in the jaw due to the reduction or imbalance in estrogen and progesterone hormones during menopause can put a woman at risk of gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Can menopause cause a bitter taste in the mouth?
A reduction in estrogen levels that happens during menopause can lead to an extremely dry mouth, which may affect the taste buds and trigger a metallic taste for many women. It is advisable to stay well hydrated to prevent dry mouth conditions.