The menopause brings with it a range of health issues for many women. The effects vary from person to person, both in terms of symptoms and severity. They can range from difficulty sleeping and lack of concentration to osteoporosis where the bones weaken and become more prone to breaking. The condition is often first diagnosed when a fracture has occurred after a relatively innocuous slip or fall. And now it seems the menopause can even lead to gum disease.
Link between osteoporosis and gum disease
Although it’s not always recognised as one of the main symptoms of the menopause there can be significant effects on oral health with inflammation, bleeding and the possibility of losing teeth. The incidence of periodontitis (gum disease) is thought to be linked to the onset of osteoporosis, mainly caused by the softening of the jawbone. As the Exectuive Director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), JoAnn Pinkerton recently said “Osteoporosis can occur throughout the body, including the jaw, and lead to an increased risk of periodontal disease,”.
Oestrogen therapy could be the answer
Certainly the link between osteoporosis and gum disease has been backed in a Brazilian study where nearly 500 women aged over 50 were treated with oestrogen therapy to see if there was any effect on their oral health. The results were very encouraging with a large variation of 44% less occurrence of periodontitis in the women being treated with the therapy.
According to JoAnn Pinkerton, “This study demonstrates that oestrogen therapy, which has proven to be effective in preventing bone loss, may also prevent the worsening of tooth and gum disease. All women, but especially those with low oestrogen or on bisphosphonate treatment for osteoporosis, should make good dental care a part of their healthy lifestyles.”
If you’re concerned about post menopausal gum disease or have been diagnosed as suffering from osteoporosis then it’s definitely worth mentioning to the dentist on your next check up.