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Mouth changes may be related to menopause

Women can endure many bodily changes during menopause, and some of these changes can show up in the mouth, where fluctuations in hormones can lead to unfavorable oral symptoms.

Menopause, which signals the end of female fertility, is a normal part of the aging process. Women experiencing menopause should discuss any mouth changes with their dentists, as the hormonal fluctuations of menopause may be responsible for some of these symptoms, while other factors may contribute to or cause them.

Here are some changes and potential problems in the mouth that may be associated with menopause:

  • Burning mouth syndrome. It’s a common cause of intense pain and can affect the tongue, lips, palate, gingival and areas of denture support.
  • Dry mouth. Decreasing estrogen can cause mouth dryness.
  • Mucosal changes. Gums can bleed easily and appear pale, dry and shiny.
  • Periodontitis. Women can become more susceptible to this destructive form of gum/periodontal disease following menopause.
  • Osteoporosis. Bone loss in the mouth may be related to osteoporosis.
  • Eating disorders. Psychological distress related to menopause can lead to improper eating habits in some women, including intentionally vomiting. These habits can cause trauma to the mouth, including erosion of tooth enamel.

The American Dental Association has oral health care resources specific to life stages on its consumer website,

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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