More Dental Visits Recommended for Older Women

The battle against plaque, tooth decay and gum disease might be more difficult for women after menopause, according to researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic, who recommend that after menopause women should see a dentist for cleanings up to four times per year.

Scientists studied the dental status of 28 postmenopausal women with normal bones and 28 who were taking bisphosphonates therapies for osteoporosis for two years or longer. The women, between the ages of 51 and 80, received CT scans of their jaws and a complete periodontal check for dental plaque, bleeding and bone loss. Participants followed oral ADA guidelines for brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year.

Researchers found that both groups had high levels of dental plaque that could raise the risk of bone loss in the jawbone or reverse bone mass gained through medication therapies. After menopause, women at risk for osteoporosis are also at risk for gum disease (periodontal disease), which affects bone that anchors the teeth. Over time, dental plaque that accumulates on teeth can lead to periodontal disease.

Bone disease and gum disease are different diseases, researchers stressed. Women taking bisphosphonates need also to remove dental plaque to keep their jawbones strong and healthy.

Ask your dentist for advice on brushing, flossing, healthy diet and dental visits. He or she will be able to recommend an oral care regimen that’s appropriate for your needs and health status.

For details on the ADA’s recommendations for oral hygiene, visit (

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.