Estrogen plays a vital role in oral health. For this reason, in menopause, some age-related problems may also occur in our mouth and teeth. Here’s what to do to have a healthy smile: the expert speaks.
Hormonal changes that are completely physiological in menopause could also affect the health of the teeth and mouth. The drop in estrogen levels , in particular, could be responsible for bone loss at all levels, including in the oral cavity .
The increased risk of osteoporosis , in fact, can also involve the alveolar bone , or the structure on which the teeth are planted. This possible bone weakening could cause temporomandibular pain, mobility up to the loss of the teeth , which can occur if the preliminary signals are not taken into account and the health of the mouth is neglected.
In addition, specialists confirm the link between estrogen and salivary glands: as hormonal levels vary, specialists have highlighted a reduced activity of the latter (hence the sensation of dry mouth that many women experience in menopause and which we will discuss in the following paragraphs ).
And poor salivation could be a risk factor for the attack of bacteria and, consequently, for gum infections which, if neglected, could develop into periodontitis .
To avoid these consequences, remember that dental health is important since it does not only concern the aesthetics of the smile but also the functionality of the mouth and chewing and even correct posture.
In this post we will talk about:
- What can be the main age-related problems of teeth and mouth
- What can be the most common dental problems among menopausal women
- Rules to follow to have a healthy smile even in menopause
What can be the main age-related problems of teeth and mouth
Over time, some conditions related to lifestyle and health can constitute important risk factors for various pathologies that can affect the body as a whole, including the oral cavity. We are talking about stress , smoking, diabetes, improper diet or prolonged intake of medicines and cardiovascular diseases.
“In the specific case of the mouth and teeth, these factors can lead to compromise the dentition and the tissues that support it, leading to the onset or aggravation of problems in patients predisposed to periodontal disease or the onset of caries”, explains Dr. Giuseppe Guiducci, Dentist and dental prosthetist who mainly deals with minimally invasive implantology, periodontology and dental aesthetics.
Here are some of the most common problems that can be related to the age of the mouth and teeth:
- Root caries : it is a very aggressive type of caries, which develops under the gum and then attacks the root of the tooth, particularly widespread in mature age, without distinction of sex. “Root caries can be related to gingival recessions (ie a phenomenon that causes the gums to withdraw, leaving the collar of the tooth uncovered) also due to age, which can also lead to tooth hypersensitivity ” explains Dr. Guiducci .
- Abrasions of the teeth: “this phenomenon can be accentuated due to parafunctions (especially bruxism) which over time determine the onset of wear veneers and the loss of correct dental guides” continues the specialist. In other words, the abnormal rubbing of the teeth , in the case of frequent “tics”, as in the case of bruxism, could ruin the superficial part of the tooth, leaving it more exposed to the risk of caries, as well as misaligning the teeth causing other problems of chewing or posture.
- Yellowing: this is a completely physiological phenomenon , due to the passage of time and repeated contact with pigmenting factors. It is therefore not a symptom of a particular problem, even if it can be mitigated with aesthetic interventions.
What can be the most common dental problems among menopausal women
Many ladies over 50 can boast a gorgeous smile. But this is the result of constant care and specific attention to oral hygiene that cannot decrease with the passage of time. It is important to education correct use of the toothbrush, dental floss or other devices of daily oral hygiene recommended by the dentist , since childhood. And the same attention must not loosen with age, on the contrary.
With menopause, cases of dental problems can increase and we have already explained the reasons above: when hormonal balances change, even the defense barriers of the mucous membranes decrease (this is the case for the vaginal mucosa , as for the oral one).
With the help of the specialist, let’s see which are the most frequent problems in menopause.
“ Commonly defined as pyorrhea , it is a very common pathology that affects the gums and the supporting bone of the teeth . If neglected it can lead to an advanced degree of mobility ( moving teeth ) and tooth loss, ”continues Dr. Guiducci. Several studies reveal a close correlation between osteoporosis (bone fragility) and periodontitis and therefore between mouth health and menopause.
Xerostomia (dry mouth)
The dry mouth can be connected to the natural decline in hormone levels at menopause . As we have already mentioned, hormones play an important role in the health of the salivary glands. “For these reasons, Xerostomia – continues Dr. Guiducci – is particularly widespread in mature age, especially in women . It can lead to various discomforts and discomforts within the oral cavity such as altered taste, oral candida , difficulty in swallowing and digestion “.
Dry mouth could also lead to the discomfort of having bad breath : if the dentist does not find other problems in this regard (specific mouthwashes to remedy the discomfort), try drinking more water . It can be a valuable help to keep this problem under control.
The oral candida or thrush has the same nature of the vaginal candida: This is an infection caused by a fungus (Candida albicans) which is normally present in the body. Its uncontrolled proliferation causes the annoying infection which, at an intimate level, causes itching, burning and abnormal discharge , while at the oral level it manifests itself above all with a “dirty” (whitish) tongue and pain when chewing or swallowing . Among the causes of candida there is also Xerostomia.
Candida can be very common in menopause. If you want to learn more, here are some interesting articles:
- Candida in menopause: what is it?
- Candida: symptoms, causes and treatments
- Genital infections after 50: what to do if they recur?
” In patients over 50 as a consequence of menopause, the risk of osteoporosis may increase. In the case of dental surgery (for example for the application of a dental implant) the treatments used could increase the risk of bone necrosis (osteonecrosis) with serious consequences – explains Dr. Guiducci – In most cases, depending on the methods and times of recruitment, it is still possible to program suitable treatments by following the right prophylaxis and guidelines “.
Rules to follow to have a healthy smile even in menopause
Even in the case of oral health, prevention is a very powerful weapon . Just as it is important to be followed periodically by a gynecologist experienced in menopause from the onset of the first signs of climacteric , in the same way it is good not to neglect periodic checks by the dentist .
Here are the specialist’s rules for maintaining a healthy smile:
- Dental hygiene : it is important to continue cleaning every 6 months. Also every 4 months, if there are early stage periodontitis problems. The specialist recommends “professional hygiene sessions combined with thorough home hygiene”. These simple precautions reduce the incidence rate and worsening of periodontal disease, tooth decay and other pathologies affecting the mouth.
- Periodic checks : “periodic checks by the dentist can be useful for early diagnosis of any lesions in the oral cavity and to counteract the onset of caries from the beginning, when it is possible to treat it by avoiding more invasive interventions such as devitalization or extraction”.
- Proper nutrition: at this stage of your life as a woman, it is essential to follow a diet based on your increased need for calcium and vitamin D , essential for bone health and to prevent the risk of osteoporosis. Even the teeth can be very positively affected by a balanced diet.
- Control screening : tests such as computerized bone mineralometry (MOC) are essential to assess the quality and quantity of bone in relation to the risk of osteoporosis but also to the health of the mouth.
Osteoporosis, in fact, represents one of the main contraindications of implantology . Contact your gynecologist to find out when and how to undergo periodic screenings, of which it is always good to keep the dentist and dentist informed, and download here the list of check- ups to do in menopause .
- Replacement of missing teeth : to avoid creating problems of chewing or occlusion, with incorrect movements of the teeth and not causing damage to the mandibular joint, it is important to replace any missing teeth . The reason is well explained by Dr. Guiducci: “the temporomandibular joint is connected to the cervical vertebrae and to the links of the postural chain”, therefore having “holes” between the teeth could also lead to incorrect postures and therefore recurrent back pain .
- Whitening: the aesthetic question of aging and the consequent yellowing of the teeth can be solved with professional whitening sessions . However, only the specialist can assess the actual need and methods of application of these treatments. Do-it-yourself treatments that can cause dentin erosion and therefore increase sensitivity problems and promote cavities should be avoided. Professional whitening must also be carefully considered because the disadvantages may outweigh the benefits.
- Discoloration and wear of the teeth: “in the case of very damaged teeth it is possible to resort to dental veneers , which are made up of thin ceramic shells that are attached to the enamel , or to crowns in resistant and highly aesthetic materials”. Also in this case, since the application of the veneers first involves a slight abrasion of the tooth, it is necessary to evaluate very carefully, with the professional, the opportunity of this aesthetic remedy.