Information About Gum Problems and Menopause - Elektra Health

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Gum problems

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SYMPTOM

Gum problems

Yes, even your gums can be affected by menopause. This time in life is associated with a range of less-well-known oral symptoms, like Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS), dry mouth, altered taste sensations, and inflamed and bleeding gums.


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    The science

    If, seemingly out of nowhere, your gums hurt when you brush your teeth or your mouth constantly feels dry even though you’re drinking so. much. water. know that it’s not just you.

    Oral symptoms during menopause are totally a thing, and they can be traced back to those two key hormones we talk about so much: estrogen and progesterone.

    Estrogen

    What it does:

    • Decreases bone resorption (which basically just means “breakdown”)
    • Binds to receptors in oral tissues including your salivary glands

    What happens during menopause:

    Estrogen levels steadily decrease during the menopausal transition, which leads to thinning and weakened oral tissues and inflammation of the gums.

    Progesterone

    What it does:

    • Supports bone metabolism
    • Acts as a bone formation-stimulating hormone

    What happens during menopause:

    Like estrogen, progesterone levels decline during menopause, which leads to feelings of oral dryness.

    Hormones also help our teeth and gums fight off minor infections and maintain a healthy supply of good-for-you bacteria. That’s why our mouths are especially susceptible to hormone fluctuations — even before menopause. In fact, many women experience gum changes during their cycles due to increases in progesterone, which can contribute to bright red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, the development of canker sores, or bleeding gums…these symptoms usually pop up a day or two before our period, only to clear up shortly after the period starts.

    Once we hit menopause, hormonal changes may contribute to the following conditions:

    Xerostomia (aka dry mouth)

    Xerostomia occurs with decreased saliva production, which leads to dry mouth — the most common oral symptom reported in menopausal women. Dry mouth, in turn, can result in periodontal disease since saliva is not readily available to moisten and cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque.

    Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)

    You’ve just burnt your mouth on a too-hot spoonful of soup or sip of tea — except you haven’t…it just feels that way (think burning, tender, tingling, hot, scalding, numb sensations).

    Gingivostomatitis [jin-je-vo-sto-ma-ti-tis]

    What a mouthful of a name! (No pun intended.) Gingivostomatitis is a fancy way to talk about inflammation of the gums. It’s characterized by atrophic (terrible clinical term, we know) gums that readily bleed and appear either abnormally pale and dry or shiny and red. Other symptoms include canker sores, bad breath, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Caused by hyposalivation (i.e. reduced saliva production), gingivostomatitis does not affect underlying connective tissue and bone.

    Sores should disappear within 2-3 weeks without treatment, although your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic and recommend cleaning the infected area to promote and accelerate healing.

    Periodontitis

    Declining estrogen affects our bone health, putting us at a greater risk for osteoporosis and periodontitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth). It can also lead to loss of bone in the jaw, which in turn exposes more of a tooth and leads to decay or tooth loss. Not-so-fun fact: osteoporosis makes us three times more likely to experience tooth loss, so it’s definitely important to smash these taboos, get the evidence-based facts, and talk to your doctor (or Elektra!).

    What you can do

    We’re all about equipping you with the know-how to understand your symptoms, and we especially emphasize the specific, tangible ways to manage them. Our goal is to empower YOU to take charge of your menopause journey, starting today.

    A quick note about product recommendations…Elektra Health is not paid to feature any products. We just like them and think you might too, though we can’t guarantee any results.


    Lifestyle

    Nutrition & Diet

    Stay hydrated

    In order to prevent dry mouth, stay hydrated by taking sips of water throughout the day. We can also stimulate salivary glands by chewing gum (citrus, cinnamon, and peppermint flavors are most effective) or sucking on ice chips, sugar-free candies, or lozenges.

    Avoid sticky, overly spicy, salty, or sour foods

    These are big triggers for those of us with irritated gums since they can sting or further irritate sores. Instead, stick with softer foods.

    Avoid sugary or starchy snacks

    Same spiel here. Sugary, starchy snacks can further irritate our gums, which is the last thing we want.


    Holistic Practices

    We’re probably about to repeat everything your dentist already told you, but it’s because dental hygiene is SO important! It helps maintain low levels of dental plaque and improves periodontal disease.

    Brush 2x/day

    Your teeth AND gums, that is. Use a toothpaste containing fluoride and a soft toothbrush…and don’t forget to floss once per day, too!

    Pay your dentist a visit 2x/year

    Two professional oral exams and cleanings are standard. This is also the ideal time to ask if you should be using an antimicrobial mouth rinse.

    Be proactive!

    Ask your dentist about treatments for dry mouth such as artificial saliva.

    Rinse with the right stuff!

    Ease discomfort and improve your symptoms with a mouthwash that contains hydrogen peroxide or xylocaine, both of which are readily available at most local drugstores. For all the DIYers out there…you can also make your own! All you have to do is mix ½ teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water. Easy-peasy.


    Prescription

    Hormonal

    Data on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for gum problems is limited. And results, mixed. That being said, some studies do show improvement in periodontal disease for women taking HRT — a 24% reduction in tooth loss, to be exact.

    Further studies with longer follow-up times are needed to make definitive claims about the effect of HRT on oral health.

    Want to learn more? Bookmark our full guide to HRT.


    We’re always keeping an eye out on emerging research and the latest clinical studies. Subscribe to our weekly Elektra Digest for the latest, science-based info direct to your inbox. Something work well for you that’s not listed here? We want to hear it! Shoot us a note at [email protected] (We’re human, promise.)


    Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health condition or problem.

    As with anything you put into your body, taking dietary supplements can also involve health risks. You should consult a medical professional before taking supplements and inform your doctor about any supplements, as well as any medications you already take, since there may be interactions.

    References

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    Osteoporosis SYMPTOM
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    Burning mouth SYMPTOM
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