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Don't Ignore Dental Problems During Menopause

Many women who are going through menopause begin experiencing dental problems. The changes in hormone levels that occur during this time lead to decreased saliva production, an increased risk of gum disease, and sometimes even bone loss in the jaw. While these changes certainly are normal, it is not wise to ignore them. As during any other stage of life, dental problems can progress quickly if not addressed properly. Ignoring what is a minor problems today could lead to more severe issues down the road. Instead, learn what to discuss and watch out for with your family dentist:

Early Dental Problems During Menopause

The most common dental complaint among menopausal women is dry mouth. In some women, dry mouth also leads to frequent thirst, sores in the mouth, a raw tongue and trouble swallowing.  It also leads to another more sinister problem – gum disease.

Gum disease is an infection of the gums that causes them to become sensitive. Often, women with gum disease will experience bleeding when they brush or floss their teeth. Both gum disease and dry mouth are highly treatable, so there is no good reason to let them progress.

The Consequences of Ignoring Early Dental Problems

More severe dental problems are often seen in women who ignore early dental problems, shrugging them off as just a normal part of the changes they are going through. Women who ignore dry mouth and early gum disease may soon find that their gum disease progresses to a more advanced stage, known as periodontitis.

In patients with periodontitis, the bacteria that cause gum disease begin to eat away at the connective tissue that attaches teeth to the jaw bone. This causes the teeth to become loose in their sockets. Eventually, these teeth fall out.

How to Treat Early Dental Problems

If you notice that your mouth begins to feel dryer than usual, you should report this symptom to your dentist immediately so that he or she can prescribe a rinse or oral medication to ease this symptom before gum disease has the chance to set in.

If you do not notice dry mouth, but find that your gums are sore and bleeding, it's time to kick up your oral hygiene routine a notch. Begin brushing and flossing after every meal. Use an antiseptic rinse at least once per day, and avoid sugary foods, which serve to feed oral bacteria.

If your symptoms do not clear within two weeks, visit your dentist. He or she may perform a detailed cleaning procedure, known as scaling, to bring your gum disease under control and keep it from progressing. Oral or topical antibiotics can also be used to fight the oral bacteria causing this condition.

What seems like a little pink in the sink could mean missing teeth a year down the road. Seek treatment at the first sign of dental problem during menopause. Your teeth – and your overall heath – depend on it.