As a dental practitioner, I help patients to take care of their teeth during each stage of life. Menopause is a significant adjustment in a woman’s life that can affect her body and teeth.
Are you going through menopause? Keep reading to discover how this affects your teeth and oral health. In this guide, we will discuss how you can adapt your oral care routine in light of the changes that menopause brings.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause refers to changes in a woman’s body once she stops producing eggs. When the body stops producing eggs, it also slows down the production of hormones like testosterone and oestrogen. The change in hormone production can cause menopausal women to experience drastic changes in the body and mouth.
Menopause can occur in women from ages 20 to 60, however, it is most common in mid-life, and you should expect to go through menopause between the ages of 40 and 60. There are three different stages of menopause:
- Perimenopause – this is the lead-up to menopausal changes. During this time, hormone production slows, and the menstrual cycle becomes irregular. Women suffer from hot flashes and vaginal dryness during the perimenopausal stage.
- Menopause – refers to the stage where your body stops producing hormones and you cease having periods. Once you have missed 12 periods, your body enters the post-menopausal phase.
- Post-menopause – reaching this stage of menopause means you will never have a period again. Once you’re postmenopausal, you will have an increased risk of certain illnesses such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
You will likely feel the effects of perimenopause for a substantial amount of time before menopause begins. Some women experience perimenopausal symptoms for years before menopause occurs.
How Does Menopause Affect The Mouth?
Now that we have discussed what menopause is and the different stages, let’s take a look at how menopause will affect your mouth. It is essential to be aware of these so you know how to better care for your mouth at this time.
Dryness Of The Mouth
Menopause can cause dryness in many parts of the body. Your genitals, eyes, skin, and hair can become dry and need additional moisture. Also, your mouth can become dry and produce less saliva to clean the mouth and break down foods. Dryness of the mouth is called xerostomia. Xerostomia can lead to plaque buildup, as saliva is responsible for cleaning the mouth at night or after meals. Be careful not to use sugary drinks to add moisture to the mouth, as this will fuel plaque buildup and lead to tooth decay. Try drinking plenty of water and using water to rinse your mouth following a meal.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Ever get that fuzzy feeling on the roof of your mouth or your tongue after sipping on a coffee that’s too hot? When you go through menopause, you might experience this sensation without actually burning the mouth. Menopause can cause burning mouth syndrome, which makes the gums, tongue, and roof of your mouth feel as though they are burnt.
Effects On The Gums
Menopause can have a significant effect on gum health. During menopause, women often notice swelling, pain, inflammation, and bleeding in the gums. When the body’s oestrogen levels lower, it can cause gingivitis. When chronic gum problems occur, this can destroy the bones supporting the teeth over time. It can also cause bad-smelling breath and pain while eating. You might also notice that your gums change in colour, becoming a paler or deeper colour.
Many women notice that the way their food tastes changes during menopause. This is particularly evident with spicy, salty, peppery, or sour foods.
During menopause, women experience a thinning of the bones. The bones lose their mineral density and decrease in size. The thinning of the bones can often cause the teeth to become loose, and teeth can even fall out in some instances.
Hormonal changes can cause mood swings and emotional instability in menopausal women. The stress and anxiety of menopause often cause women to indulge in bad oral habits, including:
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating sugary foods
- Drinking sugary beverages
All of these habits can have an adverse effect on the teeth, causing increased staining, tooth decay, and bad breath. Menopausal women need to take precautions to avoid sugary foods, and those that can encourage plaque growth.
Ways To Adapt Your Oral Care During Menopause
There are some practices you can implement to minimise the impact of menopausal changes on the teeth:
- Brush your teeth daily – You should never skip brushing your teeth during this time, as the dryness of the mouth during menopause can reduce your mouth’s natural cleaning ability.
- Rinse your mouth after a meal – You can drink water following a meal to rinse your mouth and mitigate the buildup of plaque.
- Visit your dentist for a cleaning – You should visit your dentist every 6 months for professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist in East Bentleigh will be able to reach all the areas in your mouth that you cannot reach in your daily brushing routine.
- Go sugar-free – Sugar is one of the most harmful foods for your teeth as it encourages the development of bacteria and plaque. During menopause, you should try going sugar-free to mitigate symptoms of dry mouth.
- Speak to your dentist – Your dental practitioner will analyse the health of your mouth and provide you with advice. You should seek professional advice if you are experiencing bone thinning and loose teeth, so make an appointment to learn about the best methods for managing menopausal oral health changes.
Menopause is the process when the female body stops producing both hormones and eggs. It can cause many changes in your oral health, and you must take extra care with your oral hygiene during this time, so if you’re about to transition and want some advice on keeping your gums and teeth healthy, reach out to the friendly Verve Dental team! We are always available to support you with your oral health.