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Oral Health and the Menopause

08 November 2022

Oral Health

Research suggests an association between oral health and the menopause in women. Changing hormone levels (oestrogen) may leave your mouth more at risk to oral health conditions.

This may be due to several factors:

The oral mucosa and salivary glands contain oestrogen receptors – this suggests that a drop in oestrogen levels during menopause may affect the mouth. This may present itself as dry mouth and/or burning mouth syndrome, both of which cause discomfort. Dry mouth also increases the risk of tooth decay because bits of food, plaque and acids stay on the teeth for longer.

A variation in oestrogen levels may also increase the risk of periodontal disease – this not only affects gum health but also general health and wellbeing. Severe periodontitis leads to tooth loss and is also associated with other diseases such as diabetes and heart health.

The menopause may influence women’s confidence and mood. This may result in a poor diet with more frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks and also in poor oral hygiene. This can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease due to increased plaque levels on the teeth.

Bone health is another important issue during the menopause this is because oestrogen has a role in maintaining bone density and strength. Due to the reduction in these hormone levels, menopause increases bone loss and increases the risk of osteoporosis. This may affect the jawbone by making it weaker, resulting in loose teeth and tooth loss.

The Government of Ireland has launched a Menopause Awareness Campaign as a result of a demand from Irish women for greater knowledge and understanding of menopause as well as better access to accurate information and supports so that they can proactively manage their experience.

With 86% of Irish women from the Menopause Benchmark Survey saying that menopause can have a big impact on their everyday lives, oral health and the menopause require important consideration. Research is necessary in order to produce evidence-informed guidance around this topic for women in Ireland.