Menopause often comes with a host of unpleasant side effects, ranging from hot flashes to sleepless nights. But did you know that menopause can also impact oral health? That’s right – women who are going through menopause are more likely to suffer from dry mouth than they are at any other time in their lives. The good news is that there are steps women can take to improve menopause dry mouth. Read on to learn about the causes of menopause dry mouth and how you can protect your dental health while going through menopause.
How Menopause Impacts Your Mouth
Oestrogen levels decline when a woman approaches menopause. This hormone is responsible for regulating fluid levels in the body, and when the production decreases, the mucus membranes in the mouth and nose get thinner. This process can slow down the amount of saliva being produced in the mouth and leads to xerostomia, or dry mouth.
The saliva in our mouths helps to wash away sugars, food debris, and bacteria that live on our teeth. In addition to helping you properly chew and swallow your food, a decrease in saliva can cause embarrassing bad breath. Dry mouth can cause quite a few dental problems, which is why women going through menopause are also at a much higher risk for developing gum disease and periodontitis.
Women suffering from dry mouth due to menopause are at increased risk of the following dental problems:
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Bacterial infections
- Difficulty eating and swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Thirst and discomfort
How to Treat Menopause Dry Mouth
While there’s no cure for dry mouth, there are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms and protect your dental health through menopause.
Saliva production is directly related to the amount of fluids in your body, so drink up! Drinking plenty of water will help boost your saliva and keep dry mouth at bay. Consider starting your day by drinking 16 ounces of water before having your morning cup of coffee, and keep a large water bottle nearby to sip throughout the day.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
It might be surprising to hear a dental office recommend chewing gum to help your oral health, but chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva production and hydrate your mouth. Sucking sugar-free candies or ice cubes can also have the same affect.
Use a Humidifier
Keeping moisture in the air is a great way to hydrate the mucus membranes in your body.. Running a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep will help reduce dry mouth and irritation and keep you more comfortable during the day.
Eat the Right Foods for Your Mouth
Spicy, crunchy, and salty foods can irritate your mouth and further dry it out. Instead, choose plain foods and try to incorporate juicy foods (think watermelon, cucumber, and celery) that will hydrate your mouth and nourish your body.
Visit Your General Dentist Regularly
For women experiencing menopause, it’s especially important to keep up with regular dentist appointments for oral exams and x-rays. We recommend visiting your general dentist every six months. Between appointments, be sure to brush and floss your teeth regularly, and consider using a gentle mouthwash specifically designed to help dry mouth.
Protecting Your Smile for Years to Come
Menopause may bring some unwelcome side effects, but women –– and their smiles! –– can still thrive through this season. By treating menopause dry mouth, you can better protect your teeth for years to come.
Here at Endodontic Specialists, we’re here to help protect your natural teeth regardless of your season of life. Our team of specialists is ready to discuss how we can restore your smile! Contact us today to schedule your evaluation at one of our locations in Colorado Springs or Pueblo.