As you get older, your body goes through a myriad of changes that can impact your oral health. While declining motor skills can make it difficult for older people to brush and floss, women can experiences changes as early as middle age, when hormonal levels naturally fluctuate during menopause. Here are a few ways this process impacts your oral health, and how your dentist can help.
How Can Menopause Affect Dental Health?
Menopause, or the gradual decline of normal menstrual cycles, typically starts between the ages of 45 and 55, and it can last as long as four years. During this process, women’s bodies create less estrogen, which is the hormone responsible for regulating monthly cycles. However, estrogen also serves other important roles in the body, such as sparking bone growth and aiding in blood clotting.
When estrogen declines in the body, women can experience issues like bone loss and mouth dryness. Losing bone in the jaw can weaken teeth, and if not addressed, lead to tooth loss. Receding gums are a common sign of bone loss. Dry mouth — caused by decreased saliva production— is also an issue, as saliva cleanses the teeth of decay-causing bacteria and food debris. Reduced saliva flow puts you at a greater risk for cavities.
How Can You Combat the Problem?
An early commitment to dental hygiene and regular checkups with your dentist are essential for maintaining oral health during menopause. In addition to having regular X-rays to check for decay and bone loss, dentists can also talk with you about your current prescriptions to guard against future problems. For instance, while many doctors prescribe biphosphonates to guard against diseases like osteoporosis, this medication can make dental implant placement impossible later because of the risk of osteonecrosis. When you start perimenopause, meet with both your dentist and your doctor to talk about which treatment options are best for you.
Women should also be vigilant about drinking enough water to combat oral dryness and consider rinsing with a prescription mouthwash to boost saliva production. To prevent tooth decay, ensure you’re brushing at least two times a day and flossing at least once a day. Continue visiting your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings so they can catch and prevent any oral health issues.
If you’re approaching middle age and are concerned about how hormonal changes could impact your health, turn to the team at Oakfield Dental in Brandon, FL. With a commitment to patient care, these dentists offer services such as intra-oral cameras, digital X-rays, and one-hour whitening, helping patients enjoy healthier, more beautiful smiles, no matter what stage of life they’re in. Visit their website to learn more about their treatment options or call (813) 906-8808 to schedule an appointment today. To reach their office in Belleair, call (727) 315-1515.