Like puberty and pregnancy, menopause causes significant physical changes that affect every part of your body. While hot flashes and mood swings are the most notorious symptoms of menopause, many other health conditions can accompany the loss of your menstrual cycle. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that menopause can even have a significant impact on your dental health. In this post, your family dentist in Ankeny, IA outlines the effects menopause can have on your oral wellness and provides tips for protecting your dental health during this time.
During menopause, your body’s production of estrogen drops dramatically. This drop can have serious repercussions for your bone health, which is partially why many post-menopausal women suffer from osteoporosis. The drop in estrogen affects all the bones, including the jaw bone. During and after menopause, your jaw bone may begin to recede, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. Studies have shown that the loss of bone density throughout the entire body is a reliable indicator of future tooth loss. According to a 1996 study in Calcified Tissue International, for every 1% decrease in bone volume per year, a woman’s risk for tooth loss increases over four times. Hormone therapy has proven very effective in treating bone degeneration and preventing tooth loss. It is also important to visit your dentist for frequent checkups so that she can monitor the health of your jawbone.
Menopausal and postmenopausal women are at a much greater risk for developing gum disease, which is characterized by inflammation, pain, and bleeding. The increased risk is directly related to bone loss. Before menopause, your bones are constantly generating new cells and using them to replace old ones. This means that if there was a buildup of bacteria in your gums, the regeneration of new cells could often keep infection and inflammation at bay. However, when the cells are no longer regenerating, the bacteria are able to spread more quickly and aggressively.
The symptoms of gum disease include redness, inflammation of the gums, and bad breath. When it is left unchecked, the disease can lead to receding gum tissue, tooth loss, and further jawbone loss. Although oral hygiene is important throughout your life, it is especially important when you reach menopause. You should brush at least twice a day with ADA approved fluoride toothpaste, and you should floss at least once a day. It is also vital that you make regular biannual visits to your dentist so that she can provide a thorough cleaning and check for the early signs of bone loss, gum disease, and other dental conditions that can result from menopause.
About Dental Impressions: For more oral health information for yourself or your family, make an appointment with Dr. Amanda Foust today. You can reach Dental Impressions by calling 515-965-0230. Dr. Foust has proudly treated patients in Ankeny, Alleman, Elkhart, Bondurant, and the surrounding areas since 2006.