Hormone Replacement Therapy shown to be highly effective in reducing gum disease 31st February 2017 Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been credited with helping women manage a range of menopause-related issues, including hot flushes, heart health and bone density, and now new research suggests HRT could be used to reduce gum disease and prevent tooth loss. The study, which evaluated nearly 500 women between the ages of 50 and 87, discovered rates of gum disease were significantly lower in those receiving HRT, with many seeing a 44% improvement in gum health.1 The menopause, which commonly strikes in the late 40s and early 50s, leaves women at higher risk of several health issues, including gum disease, due to a decrease in oestrogen levels. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss while previous studies have also suggested more than one in four (28%) post-menopausal women are likely to suffer from tooth loss within five years.2 An estimated one million British women are currently taking HRT, however, the NHS has claimed that many more could be suffering from menopausal symptoms in silence. As a result, the Oral Health Foundation, is encouraging woman to be more aware of their oral health during this time and are offering advice about how to cope with such changes to the mouth. Karen Coates, Oral Health Educator and Advisor for the Oral Health Foundation, said: "Several significant changes occur in the body during the menopause and many have resulting symptoms which can have a substantial impact on a woman's day-to-day life, so much so that oral health can at times feel like the least of their worries. "Falling oestrogen levels throughout menopause can cause numerous health issues, such as loss of bone density, leading to osteoporosis. At the same time, changes in oral health also are common as teeth and gums become more susceptible to disease, resulting in heightened risk of inflammation, bleeding, pain, and ultimately, loose or missing teeth." In addition to gum disease and tooth loss, women undergoing menopause can also be at heightened risk of other oral health conditions such as dry mouth, Burning Mouth Syndrome and weakness in the jaw bone. Helen Minnery, President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, added: "While HRT could offer women an opportunity to alleviate some painful symptoms, it is extremely important to continue maintaining a good oral health and hygiene routine during menopause. "Brushing our teeth twice last thing at night and at one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks we consume could make a significant difference in keeping any major problems at bay. Cleaning in between our teeth on a daily basis with interdental brushes or floss can also be of great benefit. "Maintaining good oral hygiene throughout our lives is the best way to prevent the development of many oral health problems. It is important that we do not overlook the health of our mouth and remember, if you are in pain or discomfort please visit a dental professional. A visit to a dental hygienist or dental therapist could really help you and provide you with great advice too." Anybody wishing to find out more about their oral health, or suffering from post-menopausal oral health symptoms, can contact the Oral Health Foundation's Dental Helpline. The Dental Helpline is staff by fully-qualified dental professionals and gives free, impartial and expert advice on all matters pertaining to oral health. The Dental Helpline is available by telephone on 01788 539 780 or email at [email protected]. References PASSOS-SOARES J S et al (2017) 'Association between osteoporosis treatment and severe periodontitis in postmenopausal women', Menopause, February 2017, available online at https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2017/07000/Association_between_osteoporosis_treatment_and.12.aspx BOLE C et al. (2011) 'Clinical and community risk models of incident tooth loss in postmenopausal women from the Buffalo Osteo Perio Study', Community Dent Oral Epidemiology, December 2010 38(6) 487-497.