Studies show that woman typically practice healthier oral hygiene than men; however, research also indicates that females are more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay than males. This is due, in large part, to hormonal fluctuations that women encounter during pregnancy and menopause. Due to the body’s changes during menopause, women are also susceptible to bone deterioration in the jawbones which can impact oral health in a variety of ways.
When it comes to hormonal fluctuations during menopause increasing a patient’s risk for periodontal disease, women should practice meticulous oral hygiene and visit a dentist frequently. Because gum disease is linked to other systemic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, a female patient’s overall health is at risk during menopausal years.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss because the infection and inflammation present in gingival tissue weakens the supportive bond between teeth and gums. As the gums pull away from teeth and tartar builds up along the roots of teeth, they eventually become loose and fall out.
Because women may experience a decrease in saliva production during menopause, they are at a heightened risk for decay. Saliva is the mouth’s natural way of rinsing away leftover food particles and diluting acid. When saliva production is diminished, acids will attack and ultimately weaken tooth enamel.
Furthermore, menopause can contribute to osteoporosis which surprisingly affects oral health. Osteoporosis, the thinning of bone mass, affects any bone in the body, including a patient’s jaw bones. Because the jaw anchors teeth in place, osteoporosis of the jaw may result in tooth loss.
Visiting your dentist regularly for examinations and cleanings is imperative to prevent or stop the progression of certain oral conditions associated with menopause. Women should discuss their overall health and any changes in the appearance of their teeth and gums with their dentist.
To learn more about how menopause affects your oral health or to schedule an examination or cleaning, contact our team of dentists to reserve an appointment.