You're likely aware of many of the common symptoms associated with menopause, such as weight gain and hot flashes, but did you know menopause can impact your oral health? Hormonal changes, specifically a reduction in oestrogen and progesterone, can impact your immune response to common bacteria found in your mouth and alter the soft tissues of your mouth, such as your tongue, cheeks and gums. This leaves you more susceptible to certain oral health problems, so it's important to stay up-to-date with your dental check-ups during these years. Here are some common oral health problems that affect women during menopause:
Hormonal changes can lead to reduced production of saliva, and when you have a dry mouth bacteria can thrive. An overproduction of oral bacteria can cause plaque to build up on your teeth, which can cause gum irritation and enamel erosion. Damaged enamel not only leaves you with discoloured teeth, but it also increases the risk of a bacterial infection developing in your soft tooth pulp. More frequent dental cleanings may be required to keep plaque at bay, and your dentist can recommend oral hygiene products to tackle bacteria.
Tooth decay can be more common during menopause for a number of reasons including increased levels of bacteria and dietary changes that often go hand-in-hand with low mood and increased appetite. Some women find themselves reaching for comfort foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar during this time and low mood can also impact on the ability to keep up with oral hygiene. If you notice the early signs of tooth decay, such as tooth sensitivity, bad breath or pain, schedule a check-up.
Soft tissue changes can alter gum health and lead to receding gums, inflammation and even abscesses developing if an infection takes hold. Gum disease can be painful and can lead to tooth loss, so if you experience bleeding gums or notice any areas of inflammation or irritation, book an appointment with your dentist. Treatment for gum disease can include more regular dental cleanings, antibiotics, changing your oral hygiene products and oral surgery to reduce gaps caused by receding gum tissue.
The changes your body goes through during menopause can feel quite overwhelming at times and it may be tempting to put your oral healthcare on the back burner while you tackle other troublesome symptoms. However, staying on top of your dental hygiene and addressing problems early can prevent tooth loss and keep your smile looking great.
For more information, contact a local dentist.