Menopause and Post-Menopause
Numerous oral changes can occur as a consequence of advanced age, the medications taken to combat diseases, and hormonal changes due to menopause. These oral changes can include altered taste, burning sensations in the mouth, greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages, and decreased salivary flow that can result in dry mouth.
- 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 neutralizing acids produced by plaque. Dry mouth can also result from many prescription and over-the-counter medications that are commonly prescribed to older adults.
- Bone resorbtion
- Burning syndrome after brushing with especially sodium lauryl sulfates containing dentifrices
The decline in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk for 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.
Occasionally, some women experience menstruation gingivitis. Women with this condition may experience bleeding gums, bright red and swollen gums and sores on the inside of the cheek. Menstruation gingivitis typically occurs right before a woman’s period and clears up once her period has started.
Tips to Prevent Oral Health Problems
Some tips for preventing oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay include:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Floss at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a professional oral examination and cleaning.
- Eat a well balanced diet.
- Avoid sugary or starchy snacks.
- Ask your dentist if he or she thinks you should use an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
- If you have dry mouth, ask your dentist about treatments for this condition, such as artificial saliva. Biotene is one such product and is available over the counter.