Hormones and Your Teeth
Regular brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings are great ways to maintain the health of your teeth as we grow older. However, no matter how well we care for our teeth, some changes are out of our control. This blog explains the changes to your oral health caused by menopause and discusses how to help protect your mouth so you and your teeth can continue aging gracefully.
How Menopause Affects Your Oral Health
For women, there are several stages in life where oral health can be affected by hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy, birth control, and menopause. Menopause is a normal stage in a woman's life that marks the permanent end of menstruation. When hormonal changes occur, your teeth and gums become susceptible to changes because your body can find it difficult to maintain a balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in your mouth.
What Is Oral Mucosa?
Oral mucosa is the skin inside your lips and cheeks that contains hormone receptors that react to hormone changes, directly affecting your mouth. For this reason, you may begin to experience bleeding gums, increased teeth sensitivity, dry mouth, altered taste, and burning mouth syndrome.
Oral mucosa contains receptors also found in salivary glands and responds similarly to estrogen. When estrogen levels decrease, the salivary glands may also reduce saliva production. This can lead to a dry mouth, often described as a cotton-filled sensation.
Saliva plays a vital role as it stimulates your taste buds. When your mouth is dry, it can change your ability to taste. As a result, a dry mouth from menopause can cause mouth sores, frequent thirst, and hoarseness. Although dry mouth is a common symptom, other symptoms in your mouth are also related to menopausal changes.
Other Symptoms of Menopause in Your Mouth
This develops when the inner part of your teeth, referred to as dentin, loses its protective enamel and coatings. The nerves inside your teeth become vulnerable and lead to discomfort when consuming cold, hot, or acidic foods and beverages.
Your gums may become inflamed more often due to menopausal gingivostomatitis, a menopause-related condition. In addition to gums bleeding when brushing and flossing, results can also include swollen, pale, dark-red, or shiny gums.
Changes in Taste
You may notice food tasting differently as you transition into menopause as well. For example, food can begin to taste more salty, sour, or spicy than it used to. In some cases, various food items can taste bitter or metallic.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome may vary from minor discomfort to intense pain and are related to the oral mucosa's reaction to hormone-related changes in the composition of your saliva. The reaction can cause burning or tenderness to your lips, tongue, and cheeks.
Combating Oral Health Changes
Maintaining a rigorous dental routine is the best way to combat menopause-related oral changes. For example:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes.
- Cut down consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
- Floss your teeth twice a day.
- Use fluoride mouthwash after brushing and flossing.
- Visit your dentist every six months for regular cleanings and check-ups.
Women’s Oral Health Care in New York & New Jersey
At ProHEALTH Dental, we are passionate about your oral health. We offer a wide range of dental services for patients of all ages and want to ensure you continue to maintain a healthy smile. Don't hesitate to contact us today to schedule an appointment!