When estrogen and progesterone decrease in women experiencing menopause or the time around menopause, they may experience perimenopausal or menopausal dry mouth. This is when the salivary glands may decrease in their production, and a woman's mouth could have a dry, cotton-filled sensation to it. Because dry mouth can be a symptom of several concerns, oral or general health-related, you probably have some questions about what your specific dry mouth means.
Dry Mouth, Oral Health, and Nutrition
When your mouth is not producing adequate saliva, it may make eating, chewing, speaking, and swallowing difficult. Inadequate amounts of saliva may also lead to gum disease and tooth decay too. The Cleveland Clinic notes some medications often cause dry mouth, giving you a metallic taste in your mouth as well.
When you have an inadequate amount of saliva in your mouth, there's a chance some physical issues may arise too. Oral ulceration and sloughing of gum tissue can occur when the mouth is too dry. Regular dietary acids from fruits and vegetables may burn the tissue of your mouth, making chewing and talking painful. Did you know that saliva is also the primary cleanser of your mouth? When plaque and food particles are not cleansed by saliva throughout the day, bacterial growth increases. As a result, you could have a greater chance of periodontal disease and dental caries (cavities) occurring.
Because saliva acts as a lubricant for chewing, a shortage of it may also affect a women's nutrition. There are components in the saliva that naturally break down nutrients for the body, such as the enzyme amylase. Amylase is the most prevalent enzyme in human saliva and helps break down starches, according to the Archives of Oral Biology. So if there isn't enough amylase in the saliva's initial breakdown process, starches may be more challenging to digest. Beyond the discomfort dry mouth may cause, it's vital to determine its cause and begin treatment. That way, you can minimize your chances of dental disease and continue to absorb nutrition correctly.