Besides the hallmark symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and mood swings, women may also suffer from oral discomforts, including dry mouth and burning tongue. Unfortunately, these ailments continue to be poorly understood, adding to their distress. Indian researchers conducted a study to assess the effects of menopause on women's oral health.
This cross-sectional study was a collaborative effort between several researchers from the Sree Balaji Medical College & Hospital, India. It involved 60 women, divided into two groups:
- The control group included 30 premenopausal (that is, regularly menstruating) women.
- The intervention group included 30 postmenopausal (no longer menstruating) women who were not taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Researchers collected women's salivary samples and measured their salivary flow rates and pH values. They shared their findings in the Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development.
Postmenopausal women's salivary flow rates and pH values were considerably lower than those of women in the control group. Mouth dryness was also more prevalent in the postmenopausal women group.
For reference, a reduced salivary flow rate can lead to oral health issues, including infections and caries. The normal salivary pH is neutral, and lower pH values signal a more acidic oral environment, which may cause teeth damage.
What Does It Mean?
This study has shown that oral changes are consistent with women's menopausal status, with a reduction of salivary flow and pH seen in postmenopausal women.
The impact of menopause on oral health is not as well understood as its effects on heart or bone health. However, studies have shown that menopausal oral problems are mainly rooted in the quantity and quality of saliva.1,2
As such, simple saliva tests can be a valuable tool in diagnosing menopausal oral changes and treating them before they cause significant damage. Such preventative measures can not only prolong women's health, but also improve their quality of life after menopause.
- Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development. (2018). Evaluation of the Effect of Menopause on Saliva and Dry Mouth- A Cross Sectional Study. Retrieved March 24, 2021 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330255430_Evaluation_of_the_Effect_of_Menopause_on_Saliva_and_Dry_Mouth-A_Cross_Sectional_Study
- Head & Face Medicine. (2006). Salivary flow rate, pH, and concentrations of calcium, phosphate, and SigA in Brazilian pregnant and non-pregnant women. Retrieved March 24, 2021 from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1746-160X-2-44
- Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry. (2018). Effect of Menopause on Saliva and Dental Health. Retrieved March 24, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6280573/