When you enter menopause, certain changes are expected. Hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats – these changes are discussed quite openly among women. However, one change that women don't often discuss is dry mouth. Many women who suffer from dry mouth during menopause don't realize that the problem they are facing is also attributed to the hormonal changes that are occurring in their bodies. Understanding the causes of dry mouth, and that you can do something about it, make this menopause symptom more manageable.

How does menopause lead to dry mouth?

When you go through menopause, your body begins producing less estrogen. This change in hormone levels has an effect on the salivary glands, causing them to release less saliva than is needed.  Some women begin noticing dry mouth even before they experience other symptoms of menopause, but for other women, this is one of the later symptoms that appears only once the menstrual cycle has stopped.

What other symptoms are associated with dry mouth?

Many women who experience dry mouth also find that they experience frequent thirst and a dry feeling in their throats. Some have a burning sensation on the tongue, and in fact, the tongue may appear red and inflamed due to the friction it experiences when the mouth is overly dry. Dry, cracked lips are also common in women who experience dry mouth.

If dry mouth is ignored and not treated, it can lead to gum disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease thrive when saliva production is reduced. Gum disease leads to swelling and irritation of the gums, and often women with gum disease find that their gums bleed when they brush their teeth.

How can dry mouth be treated in menopausal women?

In order to prevent dry mouth from contributing to the development of gum disease, it's important to treat it early. Let your dentist know if you are going through menopause and experiencing symptoms of dry mouth. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, he or she may prescribe a special rinse you can use to boost saliva production, or may prescribe an oral medication to activate your salivary glands.

If your dry mouth has caused gum disease to set in, your dentist will give you suggestions on how to more thoroughly clean your teeth and gums to rid yourself of this disease. In severe cases, antibiotics may be used to help you body fight off the bacteria causing gum disease.

Dry mouth is a very common problem during menopause, but that does not mean you should ignore it. Take action today to protect your teeth and gums, and get on with a life where eating and drinking are enjoyable again. For more information, contact a professional such as Yap Adwen P DDS - Family Dentistry.