Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. This is diagnosed after you are 12 months without a period. Menopause can happen as early as in your 40’s. This is a natural biological process. Physical symptoms like hot flushes and emotional symptoms may disrupt your sleep, affect your emotional health and lower your energy. Menopause may also be linked to oral health problems. That is why it is important to visit your dentist at least once a year and keep up a good oral health routine.
Below are some menopause related oral health problems and how to manage them. It is important to note that if these problems are dealt with early on, long term damage will be prevented.
Menopause is known to cause dry mouth. This may increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Because of a lack of moisture dry mouth may also make it difficult to eat and swallow food.
If you are suffering from dry mouth:
- Drink small sips of water frequently.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks which may further reduce saliva flow.
- Chewing on sugarless gum may help some people.
If dry mouth persists and the symptoms become more intense mention it to your dentist. Your dentist will monitor your condition and give you a program of care that will help you to minimise the impact on your oral health. If you have a tendency to develop severe gum disease including bone loss your dentist may refer you to a periodontist ( gum disease specialist) and to your doctor for a more detailed assessment. This may involve bone density measurements and consideration of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome is another condition that can affect post-menopausal women. Symptoms can vary from mild discomfort to intense pain in exceptional cases. Again consult your dentist and doctor for advice about how to best manage your symptoms.
Besides relying on medical solutions you may prefer to develop other strategies for coping with these uncomfortable sensations. Here are some popular methods:
- Practice relaxation exercises, such as yoga.
- Engage in pleasurable activities, such as physical activities or hobbies, especially when you feel anxious.
- Try to stay socially active by connecting with understanding family and friends.
- Join a chronic pain support group.
- Talk to a mental health professional for strategies that can help you cope.
If you are experiencing any of the above problems, there are practical steps you can take. Your dentist may recommend dietary changes such as reducing sugar intake and prescribe mouth rinses containing effective ingredients like fluoride, chlorhexidine and essential oils to help prevent dental decay and gum disease. If your symptoms are more persistent and severe and there are signs of bone loss your doctors may recommend hormone replacement therapy.
And remember about self care
When it comes to mouth protection, these habits are still among the best:
- Brush two times a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss once a day
- See your dentist at least once a year
For more information on HRT and Oral Health, click here.
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