Menopause is a peculiar stage of life that all women will experience if they live long enough. This stage comes with many symptoms. And some of them are hard to deal with. Menopause and dry mouth are one of those common symptoms. The hormonal effects of menopause can indeed affect your oral health. The common term that experts use for “dry mouth” is xerostomia. It can happen due to several different causes. But menopause is one of them. Certain conditions, body changes, and medications can also cause xerostomia. But they all work through different mechanisms. In the case of menopause, it causes a drop in the hormones – progesterone and estrogen. This drop, in turn, causes a decrease in the production of your salivary glands. When this happens, your mouth will become dry and cause oral health concerns.
As your mouth becomes dry, hormonal changes in menopause can also cause bone loss and resorption. This affects all bones, including your spinal and jawbones. Hormones can also affect how your body responds to toxins (poisons) and predispose you to plaque buildup on your teeth. These effects can, in turn, cause loose teeth, tooth loss, and periodontal disease. You must, therefore, be more intentional about your oral hygiene and get proper help from your dentist when you are approaching menopause. Aside from menopause, women may also experience hormonal fluctuations that can also affect their oral health at other times. These include puberty, certain times in the menstrual cycle while using hormonal pills, and during pregnancy.
Menopause and Dry Mouth
As we have said before, lots of oral changes may occur as you grow older. Some of these changes include burning sensations in your mouth, altered taste, higher sensitivity to temperature, and dry mouth.
Dry mouth is one change that causes major concerns. This is because your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva to cleanse and moisten it. More so, there is no sufficient saliva to neutralize the acids that plaque produces. All of these can cause periodontal disease.
We have been talking about periodontal disease or periodontitis. What is it all about? This refers to tissue inflammation around your teeth.
Dry mouth occurs due to a drop in sex hormones, chiefly estrogen. This does not only affect the moisture levels of your mouth’s mucous membranes. But it also affects that of your nose. This dryness is often intractable and can last forever.
Estrogen drop due to menopause can also predispose you to osteoporosis or bone loss. This bone loss can also affect your jaw bone and cause tooth loss. One of the signs of this is that your gums will begin to recede. This exposes your teeth surface further to tooth decay.
Experts tell us that there is a close link between postmenopausal osteoporosis and poor oral health. Women who have severe osteoporosis after menopause have 3 times more risk of poor oral health outcomes.
Hormone therapy can help preserve your dental health after menopause. Many women find help with estrogen therapy. It can prevent dry mouth, bone loss, tooth loss, and other postmenopausal oral health issues.
The Link Between Hormones and Oral Health in Women
Basically, anything that can affect a woman’s sex hormone levels can also affect her oral health and cause dry mouth. As such, aside from menopause, you should also be wary of the following times:
This life stage causes a spike in the production of progesterone and estrogen. This can increase the flow of blood to your gums. This will, in turn, change the response of your gum tissue to bacterial plaques. As such, your gum tissue may become swollen, red, and tender. You may also bleed while flossing and brushing.
2. Monthly menstrual cycle
Your hormonal levels will rise and fall at different points during your monthly cycle. These hormonal changes can cause oral changes, including swollen, bright red gums, bleeding gums, canker sores, and many more. Some women even experience menstruation gingivitis 1 day or 2 before your monthly period starts.
3. Using oral contraceptives
The use of birth control pills containing progesterone may cause your gum tissue to inflame. This is because excess progesterone raises your body’s response and reaction to toxins from plaque.
Major gum changes often occur in the initial months that follow your use of birth-control pills. But then, new pills now have lower hormonal concentrations. This will reduce the potential gum inflammatory response to plaques.
Pregnancy can mess with your hormones. Your hormones will experience a great deal of change at different points during pregnancy. One common oral problem during pregnancy is pregnancy gingivitis.
We have mentioned earlier that excess progesterone poses a major risk to gingivitis. Since progesterone progressively rises from the second month to the 8th month of your pregnancy, you are more prone to gingivitis during this period. When you have gingivitis, your gums will swell and bleed more easily.
Tips for Preventing Oral Health Issues
Let’s start with a few home remedies that can help you with mouth dryness. These home remedies focus on ways to improve saliva production. They are as follows:
This first tip is easy to guess. We all know that eating stimulates our salivary glands. That is why we salivate at the thought of food. As such, make sure you eat when you should.
But then, you must do this with care. You can’t go on just eating everything you see because you don’t want your mouth to be dry. Overeating can cause further problems for you. So eating may help, but it is not the best or healthiest solution.
More so, some food types can make your mouth dry. These include spicy foods, dry biscuits, crusty bread, and crackers. Alcohol and caffeine can also dehydrate your mouth. You should, therefore, limit your intake.
2. Drink lots of water
Drinking lots of water helps a lot to hydrate your mouth. You should even carry a water bottle with you always. That way, whenever your mouth is dry, you can take a sip to moisten your mouth. This may be tasking, but it’s good for your kidneys too.
3. Brush regularly
This is very important. Brushing your teeth twice daily will help keep any infections at bay. Sometimes, dentists may recommend a special mouthwash or toothpaste for troublesome mouth dryness. So you should visit your dentist if you are experiencing dry mouth.
Menopause and dry mouth may have strong links. But it is not inevitable. You should make the best of our suggested home remedies and see your dentist help prevent or treat your postmenopausal mouth dryness.