Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Effects of menopause on dental health of women

Half of a dentist's patients could lose 40 percent of their total bone mass, putting them at risk for losing teeth -- that is because usually half the clients of a dental practice are women. The cause is menopause and its related effects.

Women tend to lose 40 percent of their total bone mass during perimenopause to menopause. Hormones which are protective to bones, such as estrogen, are lost.

Bone loss that occurs in the spine and hips can also occur to the bone mass in the jaw.

We recommend that you discuss with your dentist if you are going through menopause because dentists need to be aware in order to monitor more closely any changes in gum health and underlying bone, which may prove to be a difficult conversation.

Dentists and hygienists can be on the leading edge of helping women become aware of the effects of different stages of menopause. At the age of 40 years old, almost 10 percent of women may begin to have changes in their menstrual cycles.

By the time that 80 percent of women reach the age of 50 years old, they begin skipping their cycle

Effects on the oral health of menopausal women include the following:

·         The mouth will reflect changes faster than almost any other tissue in the body

·         Therapy needs to be altered depending on where the patient is in her cycle

·         Patients with a menstrual cycle will have increased sensitivity in their tissues about 7-10 days prior to menstruation due to increased levels of progesterone

·         If the patient has had a hysterectomy at an early age, they will be more susceptible to problems created by low hormone levels such as decreased bone mineral density and thinning of the gums

·         Menopausal gingivostomatitis, the condition in which dry shiny gums bleed easily

·         May experience funny tastes and abnormal sensations in their mouths

·         Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis need new dentures more often and lose upper teeth more easily

·         Women with osteoporosis are more likely to have gum disease

Communicating to the dentist is important. Let the dentist know of any family history of osteoporosis. Many risk factors can contribute to osteoporosis and bone loss. Remember to inform the dentist of the medications that you have been prescribed, such as steroids, long-term medications for treating gastric reflux disease, blood thinners, anti-seizure medications and chemotherapy medications.

Are you taking supplements such as vitamins, calcium and Vitamin D, bisphosphonates or any other doctor prescription for osteoporosis.

Screening tests for osteoporosis include the following:

·         Dental x-rays, which can detect bone loss in the jaw, an indicator of bone loss in other areas of the body

·         Comprehensive periodontal exam

If a dentist is aware, measures can be taken to monitor the patient closely and treat the gum disease before it becomes aggressive. There is a link between osteoporosis and periodontal disease.