If you’re going through menopause, which most women undergo between the ages of 47 and 55, you may have noticed a pronounced decline in your hormone levels, accompanied by a range of oral health effects including inflamed gums, burning sensations, altered taste sensations and dry mouth.
The inflamed gums stem from a condition called menopausal gingivostomatitis. It’s hard to miss, marked by shiny, pale to deep red gums that bleed easily. If you’re diagnosed with this condition, the good news is that it can be managed with medications suggested by your dentist.
You may also find you’re way more sensitive than normal to hot and cold food and drinks, and that everything tastes a little odd, either really salty, peppery or sour, or bitter & metallic. This can be a by-product of what’s known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS), which can be every bit as unpleasant as the name suggests.
With no definitive cause, other than likely being brought on by the sort of hormonal fluctuations you experience during menopause, BMS can make the front part of your mouth, lips, inside cheeks and tongue variously feel like they’re burning, tender, hot & scalding, numb or tender. Your dentist will be able to suggest an appropriate course of action.
Another symptom you may experience is dry mouth or xerostomia. This occurs when you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth which naturally makes eating and swallowing difficult, as well as increasing your risk of tooth decay (saliva keeps the germs that cause decay in check). Fortunately, your dentist can help you manage this particular condition.
Osteoporosis can also affect your teeth and gums post-menopause. While you might commonly think of it as something that causes the bones in your arms or legs to be brittle or your back to stoop, it can cause the bone in your jaw to recede too, leading to gum reduction and tooth loss.
There’s no need to suffer through these hormonal fluctuations. Seeing your dentist regularly throughout menopause will ensure that many of these conditions can be managed effectively.