It’s a little known fact that the menopause has significant effects on dental health. Did you know that 28% of post-menopausal women are likely to suffer from tooth loss within five years?
Research shows that declining oestrogen levels can alter many oral tissues including gums, salivary glands, jaws and jawbones.
Women experiencing the menopause should discuss any mouth changes with their dentist, as the hormonal fluctuations of menopause may be responsible for some of these symptoms, while other factors may contribute to or cause them.
The menopause signals the end of female fertility. It is a normal part of the ageing process and means that there are changes to a woman’s body. The symptoms vary in intensity between women but can include hot flushes, being more emotionally sensitive, and suffering from a lack of sleep. There are also changes to the tone and quality of a woman’s skin and hair, and the fluctuations in hormones can also lead to symptoms of dental health issues.
Fluctuating hormones in menopause increases the risk of:
- Gum Disease (gingivitis or periodontitis). Women can become more susceptible to gum/periodontal disease following the menopause. Gingivitis develops when bacteria multiply and build up between your gums and teeth, which can lead to inflammation, bleeding and irritation. If gingivitis is left untreated it can lead to more serious problems like Periodontitis – inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, which can cause shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth. Researchers have now proved that periodontal disease, whatever it was triggered by, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the UK and it is a widely accepted fact that the menopause increases the risk of having it, due to a decrease in oestrogen levels.
- Burning mouth syndrome. It can cause intense pain that can affect the tongue, lips and palate.
- Dry mouth. Decreasing oestrogen levels can cause mouth dryness. Dry mouth, in turn, can result in the development of tooth decay and gum disease, because saliva is not available to moisten and cleanse the mouth by neutralising acids produced by plaque.
- Mucosal changes. Gums can bleed easily and appear pale, dry and shiny.
- Osteoporosis. Bone loss in the mouth may be related to osteoporosis. The decline in oestrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk of loss of bone density. Loss of bone, specifically in the jaw, can lead to tooth loss. Receding gums can be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. Receding gums also expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay.
We would advise any of our patients who are currently going through the menopause to pay special attention to their dental health, and to book an appointment to see us for a comprehensive Dental Health Assessment at our Jesmond, Stanley or Ponteland practices.