Mouth problems during menopause

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

04 July 2016

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog A.Vogel Talks Menopause. Now, over the years, we’ve realised that not every woman ends up getting the major menopause symptoms, and I know last week I spoke about one or two of the less common ones. But I thought I would have a look in a little bit more detail about how the menopause can affect different areas of our bodies. I thought today I would start with the mouth. I was actually really surprised, because when I looked into it, I myself hadn’t actually realized how many problems we can end up getting.

Dry mouth

So let’s have a little look at what happens with our mouth in the menopause. One of the main issues is falling oestrogen tends to dry out all the mucus membranes in the body, and that would include the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and the vagina as well. So a lot of women do find that their mouth starts to get a little bit drier. You might find that you’re having more difficulty chewing or swallowing your food. You might find that everything gets a little bit drier in the mouth and you have to chew for a little bit longer before anything starts moving.

You might find that when you’re talking, your mouth starts to get a little bit drier as you’re halfway through a conversation, compared to what it was before. Now, just be aware of this one. I would say, first of all, if you’re getting a dry mouth, is to go and get this checked out by your dentist, because it could be more to do with a blocked saliva duct, rather than anything to do with the menopause. If you’re also getting dry eyes as well, there is a condition called Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a combination of dry eyes and dry mouth, and that does need looking at. So just get that checked out by your doctor as well.

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What can help?

For general dryness of the mouth, there is a supplement called sea buckthorn oil, which can be really good for this. It will also help if you’re getting dry eyes and vagina dryness, and dry skin too. So it’s a lovely menopause remedy for all the kind of dry symptoms.

Gums and teeth

We can also get problems with our gums and our teeth, and a lot of women do find that their gums start to get very sensitive. They can start to bleed very easily when you brush them, and they can start to recede as well. That’s not good news for our teeth, which we need to take great care of all the time as well.

So again, bleeding gums, receding gums, sensitive gums, get this checked out by your dentist first. But do tell them that you’re going through the menopause, because that can actually be taken into account as well. Bleeding, sensitive gums can often be helped by remedies such as Plantago. Also, check your toothpaste and mouthwashes, because the majority of toothpaste and mouthwashes come with a whole raft of chemicals, and these can really start to irritate your gums at this particular point as well. You can look for natural toothpaste containing Echinacea, or containing Neem as well. I’m sure your health food shop will have a whole raft of really lovely, effective toothpaste that are full of natural goodness.

Some women find that their teeth themselves start to get sore, or you can get a really sore jaw as well. Again, if you just think, “Oh, my teeth actually feel as if they’re getting a little bit loose,” go and get this checked out by the dentist as well. It might be an idea too to take a good quality calcium and magnesium supplement as well, just to actually help to keep your teeth healthy and to keep them in place at this particular time as well.

Burning mouth syndrome

Now, there is another condition called burning mouth syndrome, and this can be very uncomfortable. It can just be a case of your mouth feels like it’s on fire the whole time. This one can actually sometimes come and go, so you can get flare ups. Burning mouth syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors. It could be nutritional deficiencies, and we all know that during the menopause your nutritional needs actually go sky high. So if this is happening to you, just have a look at your diet. Have a look at any supplements that you might need to take as well.

It can also be caused by stress. So if you find you get a lot of stress and anxiety, and if things are particularly bad then your mouth flares up, then you know that there’s a link with this particular situation. So dealing with the stress if at all possible would be a really good idea.

It can be caused by anemia. Now, anemia is low iron. So if you are going through the pain of menopause, especially, and you’re getting heavy periods or prolonged periods, or your periods are coming very, very close together, this can make you low in iron. So good idea, ask the doctor to check your iron levels, and you might find that just taking something as simple as a nice iron tonic can make all the difference here as well.

It can also possibly be due to your thyroid as well, and unfortunately in the menopause we can get more sort of thyroid problems. Our thyroid can end up getting a little bit sluggish. So if you find that you’re also getting continual fatigue, if you’re getting low mood, if you’re getting sleep problems, and your hair and your nails are also suffering as well, then this could be a sign that your thyroid is getting a little bit low, and in which case get this checked out by your doctor as well.

What can I do?

So for burning tongue or burning mouth syndrome, look at your nutritional needs. A good multivit would possibly be a really good idea, and also just check as well your toothpaste and anything else that you’re using for your mouth health. There is also a supplement called alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA for short, that seems to work very well for this particular conditions. So it’s worth trying just to see if it will actually help your symptoms.

Geographical tongue

There’s also something called “geographical tongue”, which is quite the mouthful in itself. What happens here is that the actual repair and cell division of the tongue becomes impaired, and you can get big patches of different-colored skin on the tongue. You can get really deep grooves in the tongue, and it can be very, very painful and very sore. This is another one where you can actually get flare ups. But very often, this can be caused more to do with food sensitivities, and we can get more sensitive to a lot of different things in the menopause.

So especially spicy foods, citrus foods, caffeine, and alcohol, these can all trigger flare ups and make the tongue worse as well. You might find that taking a zinc supplement for this can be very good, can often help. Stress can be another issue, so look at some of the stress remedies. Low vitamin B can be a particular issue as well, and anemia too. So check all these situations again, the same as burning mouth syndrome, and check your toothpaste and your mouthwashes.

Loss of taste

Women can also experience loss of taste. So last week, I was talking about how your sense of taste can change. But some women actually find that food just doesn’t taste the same anymore, and very often they’ll try putting more salt onto their foods just to try and pep the taste up a little bit. Now, if you find that you’re actually putting a lot more salt on your food than normal, just be aware this could be a symptom of what’s called “adrenal fatigue.” So if you’re getting an awful lot of fatigue, if you’re finding that your motivation is gone, you’re just feeling that you just don’t want to do anything, and you’re feeling genuinely unwell, then this could be a sign that your adrenals are really under a lot of pressure.

Salt cravings

Salt cravings can sometimes be an indication of thyroid problems, as well. So maybe get that checked out by the doctor too.

The other thing that can happen is that if you are getting lots of hot flushes and sweats, then you are actually losing a great deal of salt through the sweat glands. It may just be a case of the fact that you’re now low in salt generally, so in which case look at adding just a sensible amount of good salt to your diet. I would not look at ordinary table salt, and I have talked about this before. We’re looking at the really good salts like sea salt, and like the Himalayan salt, like your pink salt as well, because these can all give you a little bit of extra minerals as well. So it’s giving you a lot of added benefit.

Until next week...

So I hope this has just given you a little bit of an idea of all the things that can happen to our mouths in the menopause. Now, if you have any questions on what I’ve talked about just now, or anything else as well, please do get in touch. I look forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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