Menopause is a time of great change for women’s health and bodies. One area that is often overlooked, though, is the change women go through regarding their oral health at this time. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may discover that their mouths have become uncomfortable. Many experience dry mouth, gum tissue pain, and a changed sense of taste, particularly in salty, peppery or sour flavors.
A small number of women also experience menopausal gingivostomatitis, which involves gums that look dry/shiny, bleed easily and are abnormally colored (very pale to very dark). The academy notes that estrogen supplements and Hormone Replacement Therapy may help protect women’s teeth and get rid of these symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor and dentist about the changes you notice in your mouth during menopause so you can start returning to normal as quickly as possible.
As experts continue to find links between the health of a person’s gums and their overall body, it is increasingly critical to invest in proper periodontal care. Periodontists are specifically trained to identify gum disease like gingivitis and can give patients additional insights to their oral health. The American Academy of Periodontology suggests that patients consider visiting a periodontist if:
- They have a family member with periodontal disease. Harmful bacteria can travel in a person’s saliva, which puts family members and couples at an elevated risk of contracting the disease. In addition, studies have shown that up to 30 percent of people are genetically susceptible to gum disease, which makes it even more important to identify any family members with a history of periodontal issues.
- They have heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis or a respiratory disease. Many studies have shown that poor gum health is linked to each of these conditions because the harmful bacteria that causes gum disease travels through a person’s bloodstream to other parts of the body.
- They are considering having a baby. According to the AAP, research indicates that pregnant women who have periodontal disease are up to seven times more likely to have pre-term births. In these situations, the baby is born too early and, as a result, too small.
- They notice any signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, habitual bad breath, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, swollen and tender gums, and loose or separating teeth.
Your True Care Advantage dental plan dentist can help you identify these symptoms and recommend the appropriate next step. You can never be too careful when it comes to the health of your teeth – and especially your gums.