As you approach menopause, you can expect many changes to take place in your body. Some of these changes, like hot flashes and migraines, are discussed often. However, one change that occurs during menopause deserves a bit more attention than it often gets: the change in your oral health. Here's a look at three oral health issues to watch out for as you enter menopause.
Dry mouth is the so-called "root of all evil" when it comes to dental health – it allows oral bacteria to proliferate, leading to gum disease and cavities. The decrease of estrogen production that occurs during menopause can cause your salivary glands to stop producing enough saliva. Some women find dry mouth just slightly annoying, while others find that it causes a host of miserable symptoms like bad breath and a cotton-mouthed feeling.
Whether your dry mouth is minor or severe, it is important to speak with your dentist about it, since dry mouth does increase your risk of other dental ailments. Your dentist can recommend a rinse or medication to boost saliva production. If you decide to use hormone replacement therapy, this will also help ease your dry mouth symptoms.
Many women notice that as they enter menopause, their gums get more sensitive and begin to bleed more easily. These are signs of gum disease, which is quite common in menopausal women. Tissues, including gum tissue, are becoming thinner at this stage of life, and this, along with dry mouth, makes gum disease more likely.
Most cases of gum disease can be managed with antiseptic rinses and more thorough brushing. However, your dentist may want to prescribe an antibiotic cream or schedule you for a deep cleaning if your gum disease is persistent or severe.
A Burning Sensation in Your Mouth
This menopause symptom is not as common as the others discussed in this article, but for those who have it, burning mouth syndrome is particularly bothersome. It causes you to feel like you've just eaten a hot pepper. Your lips, tongue, gums and cheeks feel hot and uncomfortable. It is thought that the chances in hormone levels that occur during menopause may make the taste buds overactive and cause them to interpret taste sensations as pain signals, causing this effect.
If you suffer from burning sensations in your mouth, your dentist may recommend topical pain relief creams to make you more comfortable. Hormone replacement therapy is likely to alleviate or lessen this symptom.
If you are a woman entering menopause, it is wise to share this fact with your dentist. This way, he or she can be on the lookout for changes in your oral health.