I met Dr Carol Alvarado over twitter when she started commenting on my menopause tweets. We had a few conversations about the importance of menopause and oral health, and in particular, what dry mouth can mean for women going through menopause. 

Carol is a practising dentist in Houston, Texas, which a particular interest in dry mouth, a symptom of menopause that plagues many women. She is so interested in this topic that she created a line of natural oral care products after seeing so many of her patients suffering from this affliction. Her range, Effervess, is fluoride free and takes advantage of the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of aloe vera. It includes a probiotic, toothpaste, lip moisturiser and more.

You can find out more about Dr Carol Alvarado over on her website, on Facebook and on twitter.

Menopause and oral health

Why is our oral health important?

Our oral health is extremely important because there is a known connection between your oral health and your overall health. It’s called the “Mouth-Body Connection,” and it means that certain dental problems can exacerbate overall health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disorders.

What are some of the changes in gums and in our mouth that can happen during menopause?

During menopause, changing hormone levels can cause various mucous membranes to dry out including the nasal passages and genitals. Salivary glands can also be affected, often leaving menopausal and postmenopausal women with a persistent feeling of dryness in the mouth. Other oral changes that may occur during menopause are red or inflamed gums, mouth sores, bad breath, burning sensations and altered taste, especially salty, peppery or sour.

Many women undergoing #menopause experience dry mouth. @ckadds explains what you need to be aware ofClick To Tweet

What are common medications some women going through menopause may be taking that could have negative dental side effects?

Dry mouth is not a disease, but a symptom of a medical disorder and/or most commonly, a side effect of popular medications including:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications
  • Diuretics
  • Painkillers
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Even neurological medications for treatment of anti-anxiety and ADHD.

The combination of two or more of these medications dramatically increases dry-mouth effects.

What are some of the symptoms of dry mouth?

Common signs you may have dry mouth include the following:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Waking up in the night needing water
  • An increase in cavities
  • Gum disease including an oral fungal infection or oral bacterial infections
  • Mouth sores
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth feel rough like sand
  • Cheeks stick to your teeth
  • Lips feel dry.

Why is it important to manage dry mouth symptoms and take extra precautions for our oral care during menopause?

While it may seem like there is so much to manage within your health while going through the menopause transition, it’s extremely important to manage your oral care and especially any dry mouth symptoms.

Dry mouth is a growing problem in dentistry. It can lead to extensive tooth decay, gum disease, mouth sores and bad breath. The startling news about gum disease is that 80% of people have it and don’t even know it. There is usually no pain involved for people until extremely late in the degeneration. Most gum problems will go unnoticed until they are diagnosed by a dentist.

It’s important to have regular dental check-ups, as certain dental issues like gum disease can severely affect your body; especially your lungs and heart. Active gum disease dumps bacteria and inflammation by-products into your bloodstream and has a detrimental effect on your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, lungs. A recent study showed gum-disease bacteria in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

How can we treat dry mouth?

I encourage all of my patients to try the following to treat dry mouth:

  • Swish with water in addition to drinking it
  • Chew sugarless gum that contains glycerin and Xylitol
  • Patients with dry mouth should have regular dental checkups. You should bring up-to-date medication list with you to your appointment.
  • I created Effervess Oral Care products, which can help relieve the symptoms of dry mouth caused by menopause and various medications.

How does aloe vera help with dry mouth care?

Many people are aware of the soothing benefits of aloe vera on sun-burned skin. However, aloe vera is an ancient plant known for healing, moisturising and antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Additionally, mouth tissue on dry mouth patients can be very sensitive. Aloe vera toothpaste is so mild it doesn’t cause any burning as is often associated with traditional toothpastes.

What are your best tips for menopausal women to maintain good oral hygiene?

  • Be sure to have regular dental checkups. You should bring your up-to-date medication list with you to your appointment.
  • Use a toothpaste that contains Xylitol, a natural sweetener from American Birch Bark, which helps fight plaque build-up and strengthens enamel.
  • At this stage in our lives, a whitening product is often beneficial. The Effervess O2 Whitening Gel is the ONLY whitening product on the market that contains Xylitol to fight cavities and is safe to use on your toothbrush with toothpaste daily. It helps control bacteria around teeth, gums and dental restorations, including dental implants.
  • Floss daily.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. 

 

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