Menopause is a dirty word to the older female. After all, who wants to get excited about hot flashes, night sweats and hormonal mood swings for a year or two? However, now you are on the cusp of menopause, you must also be aware that dental changes will take place during this time of your life. There are four main issues you need to be alert about so you can take action against them before permanent damage occurs.
Your body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes during menopause, and these hormonal changes are one reason for the rising numbers of osteoporosis in older females. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass in your body. When it occurs in the mouth, you may see gum loss or tooth loss happen. This is particularly true when osteoporosis takes hold in the jaw.
Regular dental checkups are the best way to monitor for osteoporosis in the mouth. Changes to your lifestyle, which include smoking cessation and the addition of more calcium to your diet, are two ways to reduce the effects of osteoporosis.
Dry mouth during menopause occurs because of the lower level of estrogen in your body. The problem with a dry mouth is there is less saliva to wash away bacteria growing on your teeth. This leads to cavities and tooth loss if you do nothing to treat the dry mouth.
Reducing caffeinated drinks is one way to treat dry mouth, and the increase of your water intake is another. Losing teeth at this stage is problematic because the rest of the teeth in your jaw may spread out.
Periodontitis is another disease that can lead to tooth loss in menopausal women. One of the main symptoms of periodontitis is red, swollen gums. This gum disease attacks the gums holding your teeth in place. One common cause of periodontitis is below recommended standards of oral hygiene. However, regular dental checks along with twice-daily flossing and teeth brushing will help to keep the disease away.
Some menopausal women experience a situation called burning mouth syndrome, and it is likened to the pain experienced when you burn your mouth after taking a sip of hot coffee. This painful sensation strikes the gums, inside cheeks, throat and roof of the mouth.
Burning mouth can last for several years, and often appears and disappears without warning. The cause of the pain is often the nerve endings in the mouth miscommunicating with the brain. There is also research that links burning mouth syndrome to diabetes, dry mouth, and oral thrush.
A dentist must be told of this issue so they can take a look at your mouth to rule out medical causes like thrush or diabetes. Burning mouth caused by dry mouth, for example, can be treated by using methods suggested above. If an oral swab indicates the presence of thrush, then this can be treated by medication. Your dentist will work through the list of common burning mouth causes, and if they can't find the problem, then a follow-up visit to your general practitioner is necessary to rule out other medical causes.
The good news is that if you do lose teeth during menopause because of one of these four issues, then general dental and orthodontic treatment can help to retain your beautiful smile. Wearing braces, for example, is one way to move teeth back into a proper alignment so you don't have grinding teeth or an overbite. Talk to your dentist when you have concerns about dental changes during menopause. They can start the process of repairing your teeth as you are never too old for a beautiful smile.