Gum disease can affect anyone, but it is more common in women who are going through menopause. Hormonal changes in the body trigger the salivary glands to release less saliva. A dryer mouth is more appealing to the oral bacteria that cause gum disease. If your gums start feeling sore or begin bleeding when you brush, it's important to know that what you are experiencing is normal. Luckily, you don't have to live with this symptom forever. There are plenty of ways to heal your gum disease and ease your pain.
Consistent Brushing and Flossing
Any good gum disease treatment regimen centers around consistent brushing and flossing. Make sure you are brushing your teeth twice per day, for at least 2 minutes. Even better, brush after every single meal to keep your mouth super clean. Floss once a day to remove the oral bacteria from between your teeth – this is where they really love to hide. You may have been able to get away with skipping flossing before menopause, but not anymore.
Antibacterial Mouth Rinses
Using a basic antibacterial mouth rinse, which you can purchase from a drugstore, after every brushing session will help ease your gum disease. Generally, the active ingredient in such rinses is alcohol. If you cannot stand the taste of these rinses (they can be quite strong) try rinsing with a mixture of sea salt and warm water instead. Just a teaspoon of sea salt dissolved into a cup of comfortable warm water will do the trick.
Saliva Production Medications
If your gum disease symptoms don't go away within 2 weeks of careful brushing, flossing and rinsing, it is time to visit your dentist. If dry mouth is to blame for your gum disease, which it often is during menopause, your dentist may prescribe an oral medication or rinse to boost your saliva production. Be sure to keep up your oral hygiene routine while using this medication. Chances are good that your gum disease symptoms will fade substantially once your saliva production is back to normal.
If your gum disease has been allowed to progress for some time, your dentist may recommend a dental scaling procedure to get your treatment off to the right start. This procedure is basically a deep cleaning. Your dentist will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic and clean beneath your gums, removing plaque and oral bacteria. You will still need to follow this treatment with good oral hygiene, and possibly a saliva production medication.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
If you are not currently taking estrogen or estrogen-progestin replacement medications, doing so may help ease your gum disease symptoms as well as other menopause-related symptoms you are experiencing. Estrogen and progestin affect many different organ systems in your body, so you should carefully discuss the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor before you decide whether or not it is right for you. Some women experience side effects such as weight gain, nausea and headaches. Others find that these medications are the key to living a happier, healthier life through menopause.
If you are taking hormone replacement medications but are still experiencing gum soreness, be sure to let your dentist and your physician know. Changing to a different medication or adjusting your dose may help ease this and other symptoms but you should only change your dose under the guidance of your physician.
Menopause can be a difficult time for many women. You're going through a lot of changes, and it can take some time to adapt. It's always best to report any change you experience, whether dental or otherwise, to a healthcare professional like Dr. Scalzitti. This way, you can make sure that what you're suffering is, in fact, due to menopause and not a sinister underlying disease.