Receding gums, tooth sensitivity and dry mouth, along with an increased risk of tooth decay and osteoporosis of the jaw bone, are all issues we may face as we age. In fact, some of these may increase with menopause. DR CHRISTINA LIEW of Smilefocus talks to us us about how to manage these issues.
Why do I have dry mouth and a bad taste, too?
Dry mouth is quite common as you get older. For many women, it can be a result of decreasing oestrogen levels during menopause. Poor saliva production can also affect your taste. Some people may find that they experience a bad taste in their mouths as a result.
Luckily, there are ways to combat dry mouth and bad tastes. One way is to chew sugarless gum. It can help with dry mouth and also get rid of unpleasant tastes.
Additionally, what you eat can also make a difference when it comes to dry mouth, Avoid salty, spicy, sticky and sugary foods, as well as any food that’s too chewy. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can also make dry mouth worse.
Also, sleeping with a humidifier on in your room at night can also make a difference.
Are dry mouth and a bad taste indicators of something more serious?
When you have dry mouth, your saliva flow decreases. Saliva is important because it cleanses the teeth and rinses cavity-causing bacteria from the mouth. So, a decrease in saliva as you age – for example, during menopause – means you’re more at risk of tooth decay.
To reduce your risk of tooth decay, it’s important to prioritise your oral hygiene. Regular brushing, flossing and a professional scale and clean every six months are recommended.
Additionally, a bad taste in the mouth can be a sign of gum disease. So, it’s important to consult to your dentist if you’re frequently experiencing a bad taste in your mouth.
How can I slow down the process of receding gums?
Receding gums are gums that have pulled away from a tooth, leaving its delicate root exposed. This also creates small spaces where bacteria can collect. This can also create tooth sensitivity. Unfortunately, receding gums is an irreversible process. Once it occurs, the gum will not grow back to reattach to the root surfaces of the teeth. However, it’s possible to slow down the process with good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist for cleanings to thoroughly remove plaque.
Is there anything I can do to help with tooth sensitivity?
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help reduce tooth sensitivity. Treatments may include:
- Using a desensitising toothpaste
- Having the dentist apply a desensitising bond resin to the teeth
- Avoiding anything that aggravates the sensitivity. For example, hot or cold foods, sweet foods and drinks, and vigorous tooth brushing with a hard bristled toothbrush.
If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, talk to your dentist, as it can also be a result of tooth decay or an underlying condition. If an underlying condition is present, you’ll want to treat it before it causes the enamel to wear down and damage your teeth.
How does osteoporosis affect my mouth?
With age, you become more vulnerable to bone loss. One of the most common causes is osteoporosis, which causes bone density to decrease. Women are especially susceptible to bone loss, since many experience lower oestrogen levels after menopause.
Losing bone density makes you more prone to fractures. This includes fractures of the jaw bone, too. When your jaw bone loses density, you become more disposed to tooth loss. It can also cause receding gums, leaving more of your tooth exposed with an increased risk of decay.
To help reduce your risk of bone loss, work with your physician to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium in your diet to maintain a healthy jaw bone to support your teeth.
Here’s what else you can do to prevent osteoporosis
- Exercise (load bearing)
- Maintain a diet that’s high in calcium and loaded with leafy greens
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake
- Get enough vitamin D (sunlight)
- Talk to your doctor about any medication that may be required