Women’s mouths have a lot to say
With more than half of all women who reach age 50 in 2000 living to at least 80, lifelong oral health care is more important than ever, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing education.
According to a recent study in General Dentistry, the clinical journal of the Academy, aging has been described as a women’s issue, especially since women seek medical and dental care services, including esthetic dentistry, more frequently than men.
“However, older women need to relearn how to care for their oral health,” says Eric Z. Shapira, DDS, MS, MAGD, a spokesperson for the Academy. “Women tend to take more medications, are more susceptible to diseases and have a higher incidence of arthritis.”
There is strong evidence linking oral health and general health. During menopause, some women can experience dry mouth, burning sensation and changes in taste. Gums can even become sore and sensitive. Hormonal replacement therapy may cause gums to bleed, swell and become red.
Osteoporosis can lead to tooth loss or erosion of the jawbone. Since teeth prevent the jawbone from eroding, once a woman begins losing teeth, the jawbone can lose its shape, which leads to difficulties with implants and dentures. Ill-fitting dentures can lead to mouth sores and a loss of oral function, such as the ability to speak and eat.
“Arthritis limits the mobility of the hands and face joints which affects the quality of brushing and extended care of the teeth,” says Dr. Shapira.
“Floss the teeth you want to keep,” advises Dr. Shapira. “With a personal oral health regimen and trips to the dentist at least three times each year for cleaning and screenings after age 65, women can maintain a healthy smile for life”
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