Hormones and Menopause effect every aspect of your health, even our teeth. Dr Christina Liew explains all.
What happens during Menopause?
The gradual decline in female hormone levels during menopause can create oral problems such as burning sensations in the mouth, dry mouth or a bad taste. Gums may also become sore and sensitive. When estrogen levels decrease your entire body, including your mouth, gets drier.
Saliva cleanses the teeth and rinses cavity-causing bacteria from the teeth. When you have dry mouth, your saliva flow decreases and you are more at risk of cavities.
The decreased estrogen that occurs during menopause also puts you at risk for a loss of bone density. Losing bone means one is more at risk of fractures and this includes fractures of the mandible (jaw bone).
Why do I have a bad taste in my mouth?
Decreasing estrogen production leads to dry mouth and poor saliva production. Without saliva taste can be affected.
What can I do about my receding gums?
Receding gums is an irreversible process and can contribute to tooth sensitivity. Once it occurs the gum will not grow back to reattach to the root surfaces of the teeth. Treatment to help reduce sensitivity can be implemented. However, and this includes:
- Using desensitizing toothpaste
- The dentist can apply desensitizing bonding resin
- Avoid any thing that aggravates the sensitivity eg cold / hot / sweet foods and drinks, vigorous tooth brushing with hard bristled toothbrush
Are tooth implants needed more during menopause?
Not necessarily. Menopause does not mean an individual will be at higher risk of losing teeth; only if she has periodontal disease.
What can we do to help our teeth?
Close attention to oral hygiene is imperative, as you’ll be more prone to tooth decay. Regular brushing, flossing and a professional scale and clean every 6 months are recommended. Chewing sugarless gum may help in the case of a dry mouth and can also eradicate unpleasant tastes.
What you eat can also make a difference when it comes to dry mouth. Avoid salty, spicy, sticky and sugary foods, as well as dry foods that are hard to chew. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can also make dry mouth worse. At night, sleeping with a humidifier on in your room can also make a difference.
To help reduce your risk of bone loss work with your physician to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D, don’t smoke and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
What about osteoporosis?
It is common post-menopause so ensure you have sufficient calcium, vitamin D and magnesium in your diet to maintain a healthy jaw bone to support your teeth.
Prevention of post menopausal osteoporosis
- Exercise (load bearing)
- Diet high in calcium and leafy greens
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol
- Get enough Vitamin D (sunlight)
- Talk to your doctor about any medication that may be required
Dr Christina Liew trained in Melbourne, Australia and relocated to Singapore. She is a long serving member of the Smilefocus team having joined in 2003. Dr Liew is a general dentist with a particular interest in cosmetic work and minor oral surgery, such as wisdom teeth extraction. Make an appointment here.