Women know that a slew of bodily changes occurs once they enter menopause—most commonly, hot flashes and night sweats; but what may be surprising, are the oral symptoms that they can also be experiencing.

Registered Dental Hygienist Anaida Deti is regularly tapped to provide tips and commentary to Canadians on how to take better care of your oral health. She explains that women are at an increased risk for oral health problems because of the dips in progesterone and estrogen that accompany menopause hormonal fluctuations.

Although these hormonal changes affect every woman differently, it’s important to understand and know about the link between menopause and oral health. The following symptoms to watch for and discuss with your dental professional include:

  • Oral discomfort: intense pain, burning sensations, altered taste and a dry mouth can affect the tongue, lips, palate, gingival and area of denture support.
  • Bone Loss: As estrogen levels decrease, bones become weaker and brittle and can adversely experience bone loss in the jaw.
  • Gingivitis and Periodontitis: women can become more vulnerable to these forms of gum/periodontal diseases. Being aware of a dry mouth and visiting your dental professional often, can help keeping your gum disease-free.
  • Receding gums: Fluctuations in hormone levels can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to recession, which in turn leaves those areas more susceptible to decay.
  • Mucosal changes: Gums can bleed easily and appear pale, dry and shiny.

While these symptoms and potential complications seem scary, there are ways to help alleviate any discomfort and even prevent any dental issues by:

  • menopausal and postmenopausal women are strongly encouraged to maintain good dental hygiene, including brushing twice a day and regular six-month check-ups
  • it’s important to clean deep between teeth with regular flossing and an interdental tooth brush with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods which can fuel the bacteria to cause plaque and speed up the process of tooth decay and loss
  • Fill your diet with nutrient-rich foods that have calcium and vitamin D to help prevent bone erosion in the jaw