How perimenopause and menopause can impact your mouth
Mouth symptoms are often ones that come as a surprise to many women, but what is also surprising is just how many there can be for such a small area of your body. A lot of women also just don't realise that what they're experiencing is actually linked to menopause.
The main reason that we end up with mouth problems is falling oestrogen levels. The mouth is lined with mucous membranes, which are always kept very moist with saliva. This saliva contains lots of friendly bacteria to help keep our mouth healthy. So, when our oestrogen starts to decrease, that can cause dryness and can completely change the environment in the mouth.
We've also got the fact that falling oestrogen levels can affect bone density. We all know about osteoporosis and broken hips and broken bones, but your jaw can also be impacted. You can lose bone mass in the jaw, either the bottom jaw or the top jaw, which can then affect your teeth; you can end up getting loose teeth, receding gums and a whole load of similar issues.
Mouth symptoms you can experience in perimenopause and menopause
As well as loose teeth and jaw problems, here are a few other mouth problems and symptoms you can experience at this time:
Dry mouth and burning mouth/tongue
As the mucous membranes start to dry out, you may end up with something called burning mouth syndrome, which can be really uncomfortable. Basically, your mouth starts to feel a burning sensation. Very often it starts off slowly during the day, and as the day progresses it starts to burn more and more. Obviously, this is going to affect your sense of taste and it can affect the way you eat, too.
Change of taste
If your mouth is getting drier, that can affect your taste buds. If they start to dry out, they will shrink, which will affect the range of your taste. You may also find that things taste saltier or more sugary or sharper, or you find that you just don't like things that you used to like, or vice versa.
Tooth sensitivity and bleeding gums
If you've got issues with the jaw and the gums, especially if the gums start to shrink, you can get tooth sensitivity. You may end up getting a lot of pain and discomfort with cold and hot and sweet food. You may end up with bleeding gums as well, which is a really common symptom in menopause.
Dry lips, cold sores and ulcers
You can end up with dry lips, and it wasn't until a few years ago I started looking into mouth problems with dry lips, and that was one of my symptoms. It's such an annoying one. You may also find that you're much more prone to cold sores and maybe even cracks at the side of the mouth that are very slow in healing. You could end up being much more prone to mouth ulcers, and again a lot of that is just due to the fact that your mouth is becoming drier.
You can end up with bad breath because, if you're losing the friendly bacteria in your mouth, especially if your gums are receding, you can end up with increased bad bacterial overgrowth in the gums and the teeth.
You could end up with something called oral thrush. Vaginal thrush is something we all know about; but you can also get it in the mouth. It tends to be a sort of furry overgrowth; you might find that your tongue's really white and maybe the gums and the sides of your mouth as well.
What can you do to help yourself?
Oral hygiene is really important here: brushing, flossing your teeth, getting regular check-ups from your dentist. If your gums start to recede or you start to get a lot of pain, it’s really important to get that checked out regularly.
I would also watch the type of toothpaste that you use, because the common over-the-counter ones contain such a huge amount of chemicals in them. You are told that when you brush your teeth you should spit out the toothpaste but you don't rinse your mouth. So, you've got all the chemicals from your traditional toothpaste and sitting in the mouth potentially irritating the membranes for quite a long time. So, look for organic toothpaste with as few ingredients as possible.
You could look at Neem toothpaste. This is a really good toothpaste because it's anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral. It's an excellent one if you're getting the sore gums and the dry mouth and everything as well.
Remember the water, to help keep your mucous membranes moist. Get lots of water in on a daily basis.
You can try Sea Buckthorn Oil capsules: these are really good for a dry mouth. We also have Bio-Propolis lip balm (lip care ointment), which can be recommended for soothing the lips.
Remember too, if you're getting mouth ulcers, if you're getting cracked lips, and the burning mouth syndrome as well, very often this can be due to low levels of zinc and B vitamins. So, a zinc supplement could be helpful; and zinc is needed for so many things in the menopause. 15mg of zinc a day, and a vitamin B complex, again probably 50 mg, is usually adequate to help with that side of things.
Be aware too, that if you're on a lot of prescribed medications they can sometimes cause a dry mouth; so, look at the patient information leaflets to see if this is a specific side effect and, if so, speak to your doctor about maybe changing it for something that has fewer side effects. If you're getting oral thrush, you can look at a general probiotic.
There's also a herb called Spilanthes, which is known to be a natural anti-fungal remedy.
Be aware that with things like the thrush, that could be an indication of diabetes as well. So really important here with the thrush is to just get that checked and also diagnosed properly by your doctor first.
Avoiding certain things can be really helpful too, especially if you're getting the burning mouth, the dry mouth, or soreness - avoid spicy foods, high salt and sugar foods and caffeine.
So, I hope you found this one helpful. You know, when you think about it, there are so many things that can go wrong with our mouth and teeth and gums. If any of you have had any issues with this, if you have found something that's worked really well, please share it with us. You know I always love to read all your comments.
Until next time, take care.
You may also find these topics helpful:
Dry mouth during menopause & how to treat it
How menopause affects your 5 senses
How does menopause affect your teeth?