I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, around 50 million American women have reached menopause, and most women spend at least a third of their lives in or beyond this change. While menopause is a perfectly natural event, it can lead to a series of changes in the body, some of which can impact on your dental health. Learn more about the effects of menopause on your teeth and gums, and find out how post-menopausal treatments can affect dental implants.
How menopause affects your body
Menopause occurs when you no longer menstruate. At this time, your body undergoes certain hormonal changes, which sometimes lead to physical symptoms. For example, a decline in estrogen and progesterone can cause hot flashes, insomnia, depression and weight gain.
When you reach menopause, your body also becomes more susceptible to certain conditions, including heart disease and glaucoma. You are also more likely to suffer with osteoporosis, where your bones become more fragile. In turn, osteoporosis can also cause tooth loss and damage to your jawbones.
Menopause can also lead to other dental health issues. These include:
Post-menopausal treatments and dental health
Doctors don't treat menopause itself because there's nothing unhealthy about this life event. Instead, doctors will generally recommend treatments to help deal with the way menopause affects your body. These treatments do not normally cause any dental health problems or increase the risk of implant failure.
Hormone (estrogen) therapy is the most effective way to deal with hot flashes. The therapy can also help prevent bone loss, and studies also show that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not increase the risk that a dental implant will fail. In fact, some studies show that hormone replacement therapy can boost dental health. One study found that the risk of serious gum disease is 24 percent lower when women use HRT.
To prevent osteoporosis, doctors will also sometimes prescribe bisphosphonates, which can help slow down bone loss. Studies show that bisphosphonate use does not normally increase the likelihood of serious problems like osteonecrosis in post-menopausal women.
As with any other medication, your doctor will normally discuss the potential risks you face before prescribing post-menopausal drugs, but these treatments will not normally affect the success of your dental implant.
Dental implant failure rates in post-menopausal women
Post-menopausal women may see higher dental implant failure rates than other women. One study looked at patients undergoing treatment between 1982 and 2003 and looked for any link between age, implant location, bone quality, bone volume and medical history.
Patients aged from 60 to 79 had the highest risk of implant failure. The high failure rates occurred in certain patient groups, including:
In these high-risk groups, the failure rates in the upper jaw (maxilla) were almost twice as high as the failure rates in the lower jaw or mandible. As such, the study recommended that doctors and dentists carefully consider your medical history when considering dental implants.
Some diagnostics can help dentists evaluate the risk of future side effects in post-menopausal women. For example, the Fracture Assessment Risk Tool (or FRAX) helps dentists decide if you are at higher risk of bone fractures. In fact, research published in 2015 shows that FRAX can also help predict a higher risk of gum disease in post-menopausal women.
What you can do
In all cases, dentists agree that post-menopausal women should practice scrupulous dental hygiene, particularly if you have dental implants. Fluoride toothpastes, varnishes and gels can all help cut the risk of infection and decay.
It's also important to use other methods to prevent plaque. For example, interproximal brushes can help you clean effectively between teeth and/or dental implants. A chlorhexidine mouthwash can also stop harmful bacteria building up.
Post-menopausal women can successfully have dental implants, and treatments like hormone replacement therapy do not normally cause these implants to fail. That aside, it's important to talk to your dentist at a site like http://www.nashvilleperio.com about the steps you can take to cut the risk of implant failure.