Estrogen Therapy Could Help Improve Dental Health in Postmenopausal

Girl
Buzz, Family

Estrogen therapy is often prescribed to help women manage symptoms associated with menopause.

Estrogen therapy is often prescribed to help women manage a range of symptoms associated with menopause. It can help reduce hot flashes and help improve bone density, as well as heart health.

A recent study has suggested that when estrogen therapy is used to treat osteoporosis, it could potentially help improve the health of teeth and gums as well. One problem noted with menopause is that estrogen levels fall and as a result bone density levels may drop which can cause osteoporosis.

At the same time, many women find their oral health begins to change. This can result in teeth and gums becoming more susceptible to infection and inflammation, potentially leading to pain and bleeding.

Eventually, there is the risk that teeth may be lost. During this recent study, nearly 500 Brazilian women aged between 50 and 87 years were assessed. Some 113 were having osteoporosis treatment while 379 were not.

They were evaluated to decide whether osteoporosis treatment could help increase the bone density of their jaws, potentially improving overall oral health. The study found that severe periodontitis, a common gum infection was 44% lower in the group receiving treatment for osteoporosis. This was compared to the group who were not receiving any treatment.

The treatment received consisted of systemic estrogen or the use of estrogen plus progestin, in addition to supplements of vitamin D and calcium. The treatment was given for a minimum of six months.

Osteoporosis can affect any part of the body including the jawbone and can lead to a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. This shows that estrogen therapy while being effective in preventing bone loss may also help prevent gum disease from occurring or will prevent it from worsening.

The study highlights the need for postmenopausal women to take good care of their dental health. A good regimen of preventative dental care can help them achieve this aim.

How Does Menopause Affect Dental Health?

After menopause, women’s oral health changes due to the physiological changes that come about. This is because of fluctuations in hormone levels. Dry mouth and burning mouth syndrome can become more common and may alter the way foods taste. Dry mouth is a real problem that can often develop because of over-the-counter and prescription medications, plus, it can negatively affect oral health.

Unfortunately, as we get older many of us will need to take medications on a regular basis. With a dry mouth, too little saliva is produced to keep the mouth clean and comfortable. Saliva is an amazing substance that has a protective effect on dental health. Saliva washes away excess food and bacteria and maintains a neutral pH. When there is too little saliva in the mouth, it becomes uncomfortable to eat and even to talk at times.

The drier conditions allow disease-causing bacteria to thrive, increasing the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease. Removable dental appliances may begin to fit less comfortably. This can be exacerbated in women who have osteoporosis and who have suffered jawbone loss. Ill-fitting dental appliances can rub on the gums creating sore spots and increasing the risk of infection.

Often postmenopausal women with osteoporosis require new dentures more frequently than women without osteoporosis. Fluctuations in hormone levels can increase the sensitivity of gum tissue to bacteria in the mouth. This, in turn, makes the gums more vulnerable to recession.

As gum recession exposes tooth roots, it can increase the risk of tooth decay. This is because the tooth roots are not protected by tooth enamel but instead are covered up with a layer of something called cementum.

This is far more easily brushed or eroded away. Thus, tooth loss is a major problem. It’s been found that for every 1% per year decrease in bone mineral density, the risk of tooth loss increases by more than four times.

These are all factors that a good dentist will consider when providing dental care for a postmenopausal woman. They do so regardless of whether estrogen therapy is being used.

How Good Preventative Dental Care Can Help

Dentists are well aware of how people’s oral health needs change throughout their lifetime. Postmenopausal women facing changing hormonal levels may be entering a period of their life when they need to take more medications. These factors can all play a significant part in oral health and need to be considered when planning a good preventative dental care regime.

When you see your dentist, this is one of the reasons why they will need to know your medical history.

It’s vitally important to make sure you list every single prescription and nonprescription medication you currently use. This will provide your dentist with the information they need to plan a good preventative dental care strategy. They will work with you to help maintain good oral health so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of having a healthy and attractive smile.

Regular Dental Checkups Are Vital

Regular dental checkups right throughout life are important but are especially vital when you get older. Most women will need to see the dentist twice a year as this is generally sufficient to closely monitor your dental health.

During this appointment, your dentist will be able to check any changes to your oral health and if necessary can provide the appropriate dental care. It is also vital to see your hygienist regularly.

You should typically go every six months, but if you have any particular health problems, then your dentist may suggest more frequent professional cleanings. Hygiene appointments are an important part of your preventative dental care program. Particularly because if you have dental problems such as dry mouth, keeping your teeth meticulously clean will reduce the risk of disease.

While your dentist can provide thorough dental checkups and treatment as necessary, your hygienist can talk to you about the best way to brush and floss. He/she can also tell you how to look after any dental appliances. This kind of information can be particularly helpful if increasing age has brought about a decline in dexterity. There are plenty of dental tools on the market to let you clean your teeth thoroughly but it is a matter of knowing which could help you most.

Author
Expert