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An oral health guide for women 50+

 

Age brings more experience and wisdom — but it also comes with certain health challenges. Hormonal changes during and after menopause can increase your risk of dental disease. Keep your mouth and body young by learning what to look for, and what steps you can take, as you enter this season of life.

1,300,000

American women finish their menstrual cycles and become menopausal each year. This usually starts around age 51.1

As a woman, a third of your life may be happening after menopause. This life-changing event increases your risk of dry mouth. As your body produces less estrogen and progesterone, your saliva may change and you may not have enough to protect against tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.

About 4 million Americans suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome,2 an autoimmune condition that also causes dry mouth, as well as dry eyes. It’s nine times more common in women3 and often shows up in your 40s, 50s and 60s.

Your chances of having "burning mouth syndrome" increase with hormonal changes and dry mouth, as well. This is a burning sensation that can extend from your tongue to your lips, gums, cheeks, palate and throat.

Your dentist can recommend ways to relieve your oral symptoms and maintain good oral health for years to come. Let your dentist know if you’re undergoing menopause or think you may be going through it. Share any oral pain, dryness, sores or other problems you are experiencing, which will help better diagnose and treat your symptoms. 

80%

of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis are women.4 This condition causes your bones to become weaker and more likely to fracture.

 

Your risk of developing osteoporosis increases when you reach menopause due to a significant drop in estrogen, the hormone that protects your bones. Bone loss in your jaw increases your risk of gum disease. Having osteoporosis also makes it three times more likely that you'll experience tooth loss.

Help keep your bones strong by:

• Eating a balanced diet that includes foods rich in calcium and vitamin D such as milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach and salmon.

• Maintaining regular exercise such as walking, jogging, dancing and lifting weights.

• Avoiding smoking and vaping.

• Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day.5

 

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These habits are still among the best ways to protect your oral health:

• Brush two times a day with fluoride toothpaste

• Floss one time a day

• See the dentist regularly

 

68%

of adults 65 and older have gum disease. One-fifth have untreated tooth decay, while nearly all have had a cavity.6

Simply getting older also increases your risk of oral cancer. The median age of those diagnosed with oral cancer is 62 years old. While men are at greater risk, tobacco and alcohol use increase the risk of oral cancer for both men and women.

It’s important to continue visiting the dentist regularly to keep up with your oral and overall health. Delta Dental plans typically cover 100% of routine checkups that can help prevent these conditions or diagnose them early. Since original Medicare does not cover routine dental care, consider whether an individual plan or Medicare Advantage with dental is right for you when you retire.

Here are a few more tips for good oral health as you age:

• Drink plenty of water (preferably fluoridated).

• Know that there may be side effects of your medications, including dry mouth.

• Be sure to let your dentist know if you develop any pain, lumps, sores, swelling or numbness in your mouth or throat.

Unleash your smile power! The nation's largest network of dentists. Learn more. Unleash your smile power! The nation's largest network of dentists. Learn more. Unleash your smile power! The nation's largest network of dentists. Learn more.