Why The Menopause Could Have A Negative Effect On Your Dental Health
It’s a well-known fact that all human beings have hormones, but as a woman I could always be sure that any medical complaints I might have over the years would be met by my Mum saying “It’s just your hormones, love”
Which, although frustrating and slightly dismissive at times, has tended to prove correct on many occasions.
If you are a female reading this, you may notice changes in your body at certain times of the month, or at certain times in your life as your body continues to evolve – indeed the menopause was always referred to by the elder women in my family as ‘the change’ – with no positive reference to this taboo subject, or as to whether this ‘change’ was a welcome change, or not?
To this end then, I thought it might be an idea to make the subject a little less taboo and talk about a few of the issue’s we ladies may encounter – as oral health issues are not usually included in any advice we are given from the wider medical world.
Bleeding Gums – Now these can occur at any time of your life and may be a sign of early, moderate or severe gum disease, but sometimes the gums just bleed from time to time due to where you might be in your time of life – puberty, pregnancy, peri-menopause, or menopause. The gums bleed due to the hormonal changes in your body, and it might be a good idea if your periods are erratic or you think you may be entering the menopause, to keep a diary on when the gums bleed. If there’s a pattern, there could be some hormonal influences at work.
Pregnancy – It is very common for pregnant ladies to complain of sore gums, or that their gums bleed profusely when brushing their teeth. Pregnancy can also sometimes lead to a lump, or gum boil type lesion that grows on the gum due to hormonal influences – this is called a Pregnancy Epulis, and is usually completely harmless, but can look alarming to the untrained eye. Always get anything unusual or ‘not the norm’ for you checked by your dental professional.
Burning Mouth – Many female patients in their 40’s and 50’s – and sometimes older, report a sensation of burning mouth, or tongue – even when there are no signs for us to see. Again, this can be a hormonal issue, but may also be down to a vitamin deficiency. Any such symptoms should be investigated by your dental professional if they continue for 3 weeks, or more.
Bad Taste – This can be brought about for a number of reasons, from gum disease to a leaky filling; gastro-intestinal disturbances; or again hormone issues – sometimes it takes a trusted friend or family member to tell you that all is not well in the fresh breath department. Your dental professional should be your first line of defence in this area as we can eliminate any tooth/gum issues.
Lichen Planus – This is a very common issue that affects both men and women and most patients don’t even know it’s there. Again, it is more prevalent in women, and especially those in middle age onwards. It is an auto-immune condition which means it is a condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. You can spot it on your gums as white patches or lines – you may also have noticed white patches on the skin of your torso, arms or legs?
Thankfully, with Lichen Planus the vast majority of cases are completely harmless but it is always worth getting checked out if you find any white/red or unusual patches in your mouth.
“Hormonal influences in the mouth may present in a number of ways. We would advise any of our patients currently going through the menopause to pay closer attention than usual to their dental health and book an appointment to a dentist or hygienist for a dental health check should they have any concerns” says Julie Rosse, Dental Hygienist at one80 Dental in Sheffield, adding “Please do not be afraid to mention you are going through the menopause and any changes you have noticed with your teeth and gums. The solution may well be an easy and painless one. Prevention is better than cure.”
Julie Rosse, Dental Hygienist
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