GUM RECESSION AND THE LINK TO MENOPAUSE

Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body supervising just about all aspects of physical and mental development. If they change or ‘go wrong’ then the effects can be debilitating and even fatal.

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Changes to hormonal levels are also quite natural, probably the first we are aware of their effects is at puberty. Their effects on the body and on mood and general well-being is undeniable as any teenager (and their parents), can attest.

For women over 40 the trials of the menopause are a very real and sometimes traumatic concern.
The link between menopause and osteoporosis is generally well known, there is the possibility that a woman going through menopause can lose up to 40% bone density – that has a very serious effect on quality of life.

Loss of bone density can also occur from the mouth and as such there is an issue here for dentists and periodontal practitioners to discuss menopause with their female patients who are over 40 and particularly those in the 45-55 age bracket where the majority experience this change.

The hormones involved are oestrogen and progesterone, both these have a protective function towards bone density. Once these levels drop in the body the bones become vulnerable and this can result in an increase in brittleness leading to fractures. Orally, it can also lead to increased incidence of tooth loss particularly if it is coupled with poor diet and/or poor oral health.

Factors such as alcohol and smoking will also exacerbate the problem so it becomes important for clinicians to have this conversation.

If there is family history of bone loss/osteoporosis then it is important that a patient’s attention is drawn to possible outcomes and suggestions for remedial action, including regular check-ups, to be taken.
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