Menopause is a huge change in a woman’s life and a woman’s mouth, including altered taste, burning sensations in your mouth and increased sensitivity. “They’re all related to hormones,” Dr. Boghosian says.
Still, there are two critical changes to be aware of: dry mouth and bone loss. “Saliva cleanses the teeth and rinses cavity-causing bacteria off your teeth,” Dr. Boghosian says. “When you have dry mouth, your saliva flow decreases and you’re more at risk for cavities.”
Talk to your dentist if your mouth is feeling dry. “If dry mouth is a problem, suck on ice chips or sugar-free candy, drink water or other caffeine-free drinks and use an over-the-counter dry mouth spray or rinse to help reduce the dryness,” Dr. Cram says. “Your dentist may also recommend prescription strength fluoride toothpaste that helps reduce the risk of tooth decay.”
What you eat can also make a difference when it comes to dry mouth. Avoid salty, spicy, sticky and sugary foods, as well as and dry foods that are hard to chew. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can also make dry mouth worse. At night, sleeping with a humidifier on in your room can also make a difference.
Losing bone in your jaw can lead to tooth loss. “The decreased estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts you at risk for a loss of bone density,” Dr. Boghosian says. “Signs of bone loss in your jaw can be something as simple as receding gums. When your gums recede, more of your tooth is exposed and that puts more of your tooth at risk for decay. And if your mouth is dry, that’s a double whammy.”
To help reduce your risk of bone loss, work with your dentist or physician to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D, don’t smoke and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.