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Menopause can be a time of tremendous anxiety for many women. As their bodies change and hormone levels rise and fall during menopause, there can be some unforeseen consequences. Many women only notice the outward changes that occur to their bodies but fail to look internally especially the changes that can occur in the mouth. These changes are quite natural but being informed can help you stay one step ahead and keep healthy through this time of change.

What Are Some Of The Potential Oral Changes With Menopause Onset?

-Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). As a woman’s estrogen levels decrease it can lead to a drier mouth. Saliva is nature’s way of keeping our mouth clean and hydrated. Without sufficient amounts of saliva our teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal infections. Dry mouth can also come from many medications (prescriptions or over the counter) that are commonly prescribed as we get older.

-Menopausal Gingivostomatitis. This can occur to a very small percentage of women but can be very damaging. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red are hallmarks of this condition. Estrogen supplements are usually able to help to relieve these symptoms.

-Bone Density Changes. The decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk for loss of bone density. Loss of bone in the jaw area can lead to tooth loss. Gum recession can also be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. Receding gums also expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay by exposing more areas of the tooth to the acids in the mouth. Gingival grafting may be necessary to cover the receding areas.

-Change In Taste. This is especially true for salty, peppery or sour.

-Burning Mouth Syndrome. This can affect the tongue, gum tissues, lips, and possibly the tissues inside the cheeks of the mouth. The burning mouth sensation generally occurs from changes in taste and the sensory nerves in the mouth. It can also be caused as a result of dry mouth, poor nutrition, and even allergic reactions to food or drug. If you note any of these symptoms contact your dentist immediately for help in relieving the discomfort.

-Eating Disorders. Nutritional changes can occur from a woman’s change in her own body self image. These changes can lead to poor nutrition and improper eating habits. These changes can make our teeth more susceptiple to teeth damage.

How To Avoid Menopause Dental Issues?

-Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. This should include brushing 2x per day, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial rinse. This should also include regular dental visits for routine examinations and professional cleanings.

-Eat Properly. Maintaining good nutrition will help not only your oral health but your overall health as well.

-Salivary Supplements. These supplements can keep the oral tissues moist and make your mouth feel better throughout the day.

-Estrogen Supplements. While a controversial topic for many, the lowered estrogen levels are a main reason for the periodontal issues that arise going thru menopause.

Menopause Conclusion

Maintaining a healthy oral environment improves the quality of our lives especially as we get older. It is important for a woman to be aware of the changes happening in her body and to make the simple changes to keep on a healthy lifestyle path.

We don’t often give much regard to the importance of the bone our teeth sit in until there is a problem. The bone not only serves as the foundation for our teeth but it also plays a big part in our visual aesthetic appearance. Bone can be lost by tooth removal or periodontal disease. If a tooth is missing or removed, the bone may collapse into the empty socket and cause a sunken appearance to our cheeks or jawbone. A bone graft can restore these problems caused by dental disease or those that result from an accident. One of the main reasons for bone grafts in modern dentistry is to form a good foundation for dental implants.

What is a Bone Graft?

A bone graft is the replacement or augmentation of the bone around the teeth. Bone grafting is a term used to describe a variety of procedures used to add or build bone so that dental implants can be placed.
Dental Bone Grafting
A bone graft typically involves adding bone or bone like materials to the jaw. The bone graft can be your own bone (also called Autologous  bone), synthetic bone, be processed bone obtained from a cadaver (also called Allograft), or can even come from bovine/cow sources (these types are also called Xenografts). After grafting, you generally have to wait several months for the grafted material to fuse or become one with the existing bone structure.  Processed bone grafted materials either cause surrounding bone to grow into the graft or cause cells around the graft to change into bone. Autologous bone transplants bone cells or a block of bone that fuses to the jaw.

Implant Dentistry

It is often used to augment bone to allow for a more successful implant placement. A few reasons for bone grafting in implant dentistry include:
1) Augmenting bone in the sinus area to allow for implant placement.
2) Augmenting bone to enhance the fit and comfort of removable prostheses (dentures)
3) To enhance aesthetics of a missing tooth site in the smile or aesthetic zone. This zone is generally defined as the visible area seen upon full smile, including the teeth, gingiva, and lips.
For a dental implants to be a success, the patient must have sufficient bone in the jaw to place the implant into.
Assumptions were once made that if a patient did not have sufficient quality or quantity of bone in their jaw they would not be suitable candidates for dental implants. Today, thanks to the exponential advances in dental techniques, materials, and technology, patients with insufficient bone in their jaws can have the bone rebuilt using bone grafting.

Bone Grafting Procedure

The actual bone grafting procedure is quite straightforward. A dentist will assess the quantity and quality of your bone during the treatment planning stages. It will be at this time that he/she will determine if there is a need for bone grafting. Then your dentist will review the different types of bone grafts with you and decide which will be the most suitable for your individual case.

Once this has been decided the bone graft procedure can be performed. The actual procedure requires the dentist to place bone under the gum tissue at the site where the bone graft is needed. The dentist will then be able to place the bone to be grafted onto the site and then cover it with a membrane for protection. Membranes are often used to help stabilize the bone graft as well as keep the gum tissue from invading the healing bone graft. The gum tissue will grow at a much faster rate than bone, therefore, membranes are used to prevent gum tissue from growing in and displacing the bone graft before it fully matures.This membrane is also used to protect the boneDental Bone Grafting from any germs found in the oral cavity and ensure that the area is perfectly clean to allow the healing process to take place. Finally, the area is closed and the tissue is stitched into place. Bone graft healing time is usually right around 4-6 months. But this can vary from patient to patient. Patients are given a prescription for antibiotics to take following their bone graft. Antibiotic mouthwashes can also be prescribed to preserve the health of the gum covering the bone graft.

On follow up visits the dentist will check on the success of the bone graft by taking x-rays to determine the height and width of the new bone. Once this has been verified as satisfactory, and the site of the bone graft is completely healed, the next stage of the dental implant process can begin.

Dental bone grafts for the purpose of dental implants has a very high success rate. But there is always a possibility that the bone graft will not work as planned, even if your own bone was used. Bone grafts are not rejected by the body like organ transplants. There is still some mystery as to why some bone grafts fail. We do know that certain people (for example, smokers, diabetics, patients with poor dental hygiene) have higher risks of graft failure.

A failed graft will need to be removed. Once healed properly, you and your dentist may choose to place a second graft.

A bone graft gives the implant dentist and patient one more tool to achieve a successful outcome to just about any implant treatment.

Dental Bone Graft