Hot flushes, difficulty sleeping and mood swings are all common and widely-known symptoms you might expect to experience during the menopause. But changes to your teeth aren't something many of us would perhaps usually associate with "the change".
Dr Jenny Kabir, head dentist and founder of the Fresh Dental Smile Clinic, says that the change in hormones you experience during the menopause can actually make a big difference to your teeth, gums and mouth. This means that you might start to notice different sensations in your mouth that you'd never experienced before during this time.
It's often nothing to worry about, and may not always be linked to your menopause, but it's handy to know what's common and what you can do about it. Dr Jeny shares her advice.
The most common symptoms
Dry mouth- This is a really common symptom where your mouth feels very dry or painful. This is caused by the changes to your hormones that means your body creates less moisture. In some cases, you might feel your taste buds are changing and you start enjoy different types of foods.
Burning tongue- Ever get a tongue burning sensation, like you've just had a bite of a hot curry or chilli? A lot of menopausal women, around 40 per cent, experience this burning tongue sensation.
Sensitive gums –The drop in the hormone oesterogen that happens during the menopause can make your gums feel sensitive or inflamed or start bleeding, which does make them at higher risk of receding. If this happens, it's important to chat to your dentist about it so it can be easily treated.
Tooth loss – This is more common in postmenopausal women than those still going through the menopause, but it's important for everyone to be vigilant about it. With the drop in oestrogen making your bones, including your jaw, weaker, you may also find that any dentures you wear don't fit quite as well as they used to.
What can I do to help?
The menopause can sometimes be a bit overwhelming with your body going through different changes. But the good news is your dental health doesn’t need to be a worry if you stick to these simple resolutions.
- Keep it clean– If you don't already, make sure that you brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Flossing is just as important as brushing as it reaches parts of your mouth that your toothbrush can’t. If you have a dry mouth, it is generally easier for bacteria to grow so you really want to be taking care of your teeth at this time.
- Balance your diet– Eating well is one of the best ways to help manage the changes your body is going through during the menopause, including your teeth. By not eating too much sugary food, your risk of tooth decay will be much lower. By opting for foods that are packed with calcium, like cheese and yogurts, you'll also help your bones, incluing your jaw, stay strong. To keep that burning tongue in check, try drinking plenty of water and avoid spicy foods too.
- Don't delay your dentist's visit- The earlier you go and see your dentist, the more likely they are to be able to spot any problems and help you out with any issues you have. Don't be afraid to mention you're going through the menopause and any changes you've noticed to your teeth since it began. Talk to them about concerns you have- the solution may well be an easy and painless one.
- Don't panic- Remember that every woman goes through different changes and that you’re definitely not the only one experiencing these symptoms. If you feel like something is wrong or unusual during the menopause process, talk to somebody about it. You can speak to your doctor, join in discussion on the Menopause Matters forum or check out the A.Vogel website.
Dr Jenny Kabir was one of the youngest dentists to be awarded the DPDS (3 year postgraduate diploma) from Bristol University and has successfully established Fresh Dental as a leading clinic in York. For more info, visit www.freshsmiles.co.uk.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.