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Menopause causes a whole raft of changes for those who experience it. From hot flushes and insomnia to a reduced sex drive and mood changes, it can have far-reaching effects. Even the mouth is not safe from complications.
With this in mind dentist Faizan Zaheer, from Bupa, spoke with Express.co.uk about how menopause can impact the mouth.
He explained: “Many women may not be aware that their oral health can be affected during menopause.
“Changing hormone levels make them more susceptible to oral health problems such as dry mouth and gum disease.
“During menopause our teeth and gums need extra attention.
“It’s important to keep up a good oral health routine and attend regular check-ups with your dentist to discuss any changes in your teeth, gums, tongue or mouth.
“Looking after your mouth at this stage of life is more important than ever.”
He shared four of the most common oral health problems people experience during menopause.
“Falling oestrogen levels cause the body to reduce saliva production, leading to a dry mouth,” he said.
“When your mouth is dry, bacteria can grow and increased bacteria levels can lead to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.”
He said: “What many people don’t realise is that gum disease is also linked to wider health problems such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”
Osteoporosis and weakness in the jawbone
Mr Zaheer said: “Menopause puts women at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, which can also affect our teeth.
“There are some studies that suggest a link between osteoporosis and increased susceptibility to gum disease.
“On top of that, certain medications which are used in the management of osteoporosis can have a detrimental impact on jawbone healing and, as a result, you may not be able to receive certain dental treatments.”
Burning mouth syndrome
“This is a rare symptom, but some women may feel pain or a burning sensation on the tongue, gums, lips, inside of the cheeks, or the back of the mouth and throat,” he added.
“Some foods can also taste different and may leave a metallic taste in the mouth.
“This is due to the changing hormone levels which can affect your taste buds and make you more sensitive to pain.”
What can be done to help?
Mr Zaheer said: “Some women may need to improve their oral health and hygiene routines and make lifestyle changes to prevent some of the problems associated with menopause.
“Dental professionals can offer support and help women make changes for the better.
“It’s important to speak to your dentist if you notice any changes in your teeth, gums, tongue or mouth. Looking after your mouth at this stage of life is more important than ever.”
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste
- Cleaning in between your teeth using interdental brushes (or floss if your interdental spaces are tight), once a day.
- Visiting your dentist and hygienist at least once a year for a professional oral examination and cleaning.
- Making healthier lifestyle choices – not smoking, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet all help reduce your risk of serious health complications, in your mouth and elsewhere.
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