HRT can boost oral health during menopause
Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast on how Hormone Replacement Therapy can help reduce gum disease in menopausal women
HORMONE Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been credited with helping women manage a range of menopause-related issues, including hot flushes, heart health and bone density.
Now, new research suggests HRT could be used to reduce gum disease and prevent tooth loss.
The study, which evaluated nearly 500 women between the ages of 50 and 87, discovered rates of gum disease were significantly lower in those receiving HRT, with many seeing a 44 per cent improvement in gum health.
The menopause commonly affects those in their late 40s and early 50s and leaves women at higher risk of several health issues due to a decrease in oestrogen levels, including gum disease.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss while previous studies have also suggested more than one in four (28 per cent) post-menopausal women are likely to suffer from tooth loss within five years.
An estimated one million British women are currently taking HRT, however, the NHS has claimed that many more could be suffering from menopausal symptoms in silence.
As a result, woman are encouraged to be more aware of their oral health during this time.
Karen Coates, Oral Health Educator and Advisor for the Oral Health Foundation, said: "Several significant changes occur in the body during the menopause and many have resulting symptoms which can have a substantial impact on a woman's day-to-day life, so much so that oral health can at times feel like the least of their worries.
"Falling oestrogen levels throughout menopause can cause numerous health issues, such as loss of bone density, leading to osteoporosis. At the same time, changes in oral health also are common as teeth and gums become more susceptible to disease, resulting in heightened risk of inflammation, bleeding, pain, and ultimately, loose or missing teeth."
In addition to gum disease and tooth loss, women undergoing menopause can also be at heightened risk of other oral health conditions such as dry mouth, Burning Mouth Syndrome and weakness in the jaw bone.
Helen Minnery, President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, added: "While HRT could offer women an opportunity to alleviate some painful symptoms, it is extremely important to continue maintaining a good oral health and hygiene routine during menopause.
"Brushing our teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks we consume could make a significant difference in keeping any major problems at bay."