Menopause and sensitive teeth: symptoms, causes, treatments
Hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and mood swings are just a few of the common symptoms associated with menopause. But fluctuating hormone levels can also impact some unexpected parts of your body, like your mouth. As your estrogen levels decline during perimenopause and menopause, you may notice sensitive teeth, sore gums, and other issues.
Some people notice that things taste different during the menopausal transition. You can even develop something called burning mouth syndrome, which is just as nasty as it sounds.
Keep reading to learn more about the effects of menopause on your mouth and what you can do to find relief.
Brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding excess sugar, and getting your teeth cleaned regularly are all ways to actively protect your oral health. But some things, like hormonal fluctuations, are beyond your control.
Indeed, hormonal changes can affect your teeth at several stages of your life. This can happen in the following ways:
- Puberty. The increase in hormones can make you more susceptible to red, inflamed gums, as well as canker sores.
- Menstruation. In the few days leading up to your period, you may experience tender and inflamed gums, as well as canker sores. These symptoms tend to subside after your period ends.
- Pregnancy. A surge of hormones can increase your risk of pregnancy gingivitis, especially between months 2 and 8.
- While taking birth control pills. In the past, higher levels of hormones in oral contraceptives increased the risk of gum inflammation. Such risks are not as common today, but there is some evidence that extracting a tooth during birth control could increase your risk of developing dry socket.
- Menopause. A drop in estrogen can lead to various changes in your mouth, including altered taste, dry mouth, sensitive teeth, and more.
A decrease in hormones during perimenopause and menopause can lead to a variety of mouth-related changes. This can cause the following symptoms:
If you regularly experience pain after drinking or eating hot or cold foods, you may have tooth sensitivity.
Sensitive teeth develop when the dentin, or the inner part of the teeth, loses both its protective enamel and its cementum coatings. This leaves the nerves inside your teeth vulnerable, which can lead to pain and discomfort when consuming cold, hot or acidic foods.
Inflammation of the gums
Menopausal gingivostomatitis is an oral condition related to menopause that causes inflammation of the gums. Along with swollen gums, you may have noticeably pale, shiny, or dark red gums. Your gums can also bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing.
Hormonal changes during the menopausal transition can also change how foods taste for you. For example, you may be bothered by salty, acidic or peppery foods. Foods may also taste unusually bitter or metallic.
In some cases, menopause-induced taste changes accompany a condition known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS). As the name suggests, BMS causes burning, pain, and tenderness around the mouth, including the lips, tongue, and cheeks.
Tooth pain during menopause is linked to both hormonal and age-related causes, such as thinning of oral tissues, dry mouth and osteoporosis.
Thinning of oral tissues
As estrogen levels decrease, the oral mucosal epithelium may also decrease in thickness. This can make you more sensitive to pain and more susceptible to mouth infections.
The salivary glands depend in part on hormones to continue to support saliva production and maintain its consistency.
Lower estrogen levels
Other problems associated with dry mouth
Postmenopausal people are
While you may associate this age-related condition with thinning bones throughout your body, it’s important not to forget about the bones inside your mouth. In particular, osteoporosis can cause jaw recession, which can reduce the size of your gums and lead to tooth loss.
If you’re experiencing significant menopause-related dental changes that interfere with your overall quality of life, it’s important to contact a dentist or doctor to see if treatment can help.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one possible option that can help relieve multiple symptoms of menopause. However, not everyone is a good candidate for HRT due to the possibility of serious side effects, such as blood clots.
Still, some research demonstrates the benefits of HRT for post-menopausal oral health issues. A study of 492 postmenopausal people compared those who received osteoporosis treatments, such as HRT or supplements, with those who received none.
The researchers found that those who received estrogen treatments for the prevention of osteoporosis also had a significantly lower risk of developing periodontitis, a serious gum infection that can also damage the teeth and jawbone.
If you are interested in HRT, it is important to carefully discuss the risks versus benefits with a doctor.
While hormonal changes can lead to changes in your mouth, teeth and gum problems are not inevitable.
It’s important to see a dentist if you experience any unusual changes in your oral health, such as dry mouth, tooth sensitivity, or pain. They can recommend corrective procedures or medications that can help resolve these issues.
Additionally, your dentist might recommend the following:
Hormonal fluctuations – especially a drop in estrogen – can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. While these can impact your mood, sleep quality, and body temperature, menopause can also lead to changes in your mouth.
While some oral health changes related to menopause can cause mild discomfort, others, like dry mouth, can lead to bigger problems with your teeth and gums.
Protecting your oral health during menopause can lead to better gum and tooth outcomes as you age, as well as an overall better quality of life. If lifestyle changes and regular oral care don’t relieve your symptoms, see a dentist or doctor for possible prescription treatments.