Reports Warn that Menopause Could Take a Bite Out of Oral Health

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • It’s amazing how much women’s bodies change upon reaching menopause. It turns out that going through “The Change” can have an impact on your dental health.

    For instance, Dental News reported on a new study that found that more than one in four post-menopausal women may lose teeth during a five-year period. The study of more than 1,000 post-menopausal women also found that the risk of tooth loss increases to almost 90% if the woman has other risk factors, including diabetes and smoking.

    In addition, Dr. Andrew Weil, who is a clinical professor of medicine and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, described a study of postmenopausal women that found that women who took bone-strengthening drugs called bisphosphonates as well women with normal bones “had abnormally high levels of dental plaque, a film of bacteria, bacterial waste and food particles that stick to teeth.” According to the researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic, all of these study participants had been brushing twice a day, flossing, and having two dental checkups a year. “Left on teeth, plaque sets in motion the conditions that cause gum disease, a process that can erode the sockets that anchor teeth and lead to tooth loss,” Dr. Weil said. “The answer may be having as many as four checkups a year with deep periodontal cleaning to control plaque.”

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    It’s important to be vigilant in taking care of your teeth and mouth at any age because of their link to your overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, oral health may have an effect, be affected by or contribute to different diseases. These diseases include:

    • Endocarditis - Gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream,” the Mayo Clinic website explained. “If you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, this can cause infection in other parts of the body — such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).”
    • Cardiovascular disease – Some studies have linked heart disease, clogged arteries and strokes to oral health. The research suggests that oral bacteria caused by chronic inflammation from periodontitis may be responsible.
    • Diabetes – According to the Mayo Clinic, “Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control.”
    • HIV/AIDS – People who have HIV/AIDS can experience oral issues, such as mucosal lesions.
    • Osteoporosis – This malady may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
    • Other conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome and eating disorders, may be linked to dental health.

    Therefore, it’s important for women to remain vigilant about their own oral care through brushing at least twice a day, flossing, regularly replacing their toothbrush, and scheduling regular appointments with their dentists.

Published On: July 14, 2011