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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.



Recent studies have shown an increased risk for periodontal disease in women. Why are women more prone to the disease, and what can be done to help decrease the risks? While there are many risk factors, which seem to be more prevalent?

Female hormones seem to be the main risk factor.  The study done at Case Western University has shown a link between female sex hormones and periodontal disease. For women, this means it effects them over the course of their entire lives. Female sex hormone changes occur at puberty, menstruation, during pregnancy, and throughout menopause. The study found that as female sex hormones fluctuate throughout a woman’s life they can change conditions in the mouth that allow bacteria to grow and enter the bloodstream. This development can and usually does intensify certain health issues like bone loss in the body and especially the mouth.

What can women do to prevent Periodontal Disease?

Some preventive steps  are the same for men and for women. These include, maintaining proper oral hygiene, regular dental examinations, and professional cleanings. For women, the steps may need to be brought to the next level.  Women are presented with different challenges in  life that can at different periods increase the risk for periodontal disease and progression. In its earliest stages, periodontal disease (called ginigivitis at this point) is reversible, but if periodontal disease progresses to the stage called periodontitis it is much more difficult to combat. The following are some tips for women to prevent periodontal disease:

Maintain proper oral hygiene at home. This is doubly important for women especially during the times of their lives when sex hormones are elevated. This includes brushing at least twice a day (after every meal is even better when possible), flossing at least once per day, using an antibacterial mouth rinse, an electric toothbrush and waterpik with periogen, and drinking water. Decrease snacking and try to maintain a healthy diet. You may even want to try oil pulling therapy.

Regular dental visits and professional cleanings. It is recommended to have a dental exam every 6 months and at least 2 professional cleanings per year. The number of cleanings recommended by your dentist is based on your risk factors. Hormonal fluctuations, advancement of gum disease, and bone loss are reason to increase cleanings to every 3-4 months. It was long believed that women should not seek dental care during pregnancy. The opposite is true,  women who are pregnant need to be diligent to avoid developing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to pre term birth as well as low birth weight of children. Women going through hormone fluctuation (menses, pregnancy, menopause) are also at higher risk for tooth decay.

Be Healthy. Smokers are at an increased risk for periodontal disease as are diabetics. Quitting smoking and changing to a healthy diet can help your body increase it’s healing capability and decrease periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease Conclusion

All of us need to be diligent with oral hygiene to keep healthy. The fact that women need to be extra diligent in maintaining proper oral hygiene throughout their lives is important to understand. We are only beginning to understand many of the hormonal risk factors for women. The research has made us aware that women need to work harder to maintain their oral health.