Menopause, a phase of life all women must go through, yet many of the symptoms are not frequently discussed. We’re here to speak specifically about the oral health impacts of menopause on women. Not only does our oral health change as we age, but for women, menopause brings additional concerns. Around 3,000 women reach menopausal age daily, but the manifestations of menopause in oral health are even less widely discussed than overall symptoms. We’d like to highlight some common ones below so you will better know what to expect.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
We’ve discussed dry mouth in several of our latest blog posts, but it truly is a real concern especially as we age and menopause is just another contributing factor. The important thing to remember is that dry mouth can rapidly advance tooth decay leading to multiple cavities and pain if not treated early. Read through this post to learn how to cope with dry mouth and decrease the risk of decay that accompanies it.
Throughout the stages of menopause, hormones (most notably estrogen and progesterone) decrease over time. This decline in hormones contributes to the occurrence of osteoporosis. Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss. As bone is resorbed particularly in the jaw bone, tooth loss may become imminent especially coupled with the inflammatory disease process of periodontal disease. Osteoporosis may also lead to pain and discomfort in the TMJ. Hormone Therapy (HT) may be a good option for some women, but should be thoroughly discussed with her physician.
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)
Burning mouth syndrome is just one in a long list of oral mucosal disorders that may affect menopausal women. BMS is caused by a decrease in estrogen and can unfortunately last for years. BMS must be diagnosed by a healthcare professional and other disorders ruled out. Usual symptoms of BMS are a bilateral burning sensation and altered taste. Patients may also notice increased thirst and symptoms worsening throughout the day. If you are experiencing these symptoms and also fall into any of the stages of menopause, it is important to discuss with your physician and/or dentist.
These are just a few of the most common oral health symptoms associated with menopause. They can occur during perimenopause, menopause and/or post-menopause. This may begin as early as age 35. As always, if you notice any changes in oral health that you can’t attribute to homecare or nutritional changes, please bring them to our attention. We may be able to help you navigate these changes to decrease the impact on your quality of life.
Dimensions of Dental Hygiene
Oral Health and Menopause: A Comprehensive Review on Current Knowledge and Associated Dental Management