Estrogen therapy helps women in menopause reduce hot flashes, improve heart health and bone density, and maintain levels of sexual satisfaction. Plus, the same therapy that treats osteoporosis may lead to healthier teeth and gums as well, reports the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
As estrogen levels fall during menopause, women become vulnerable to numerous health issues including loss of bone mineral density, which can lead to osteoporosis. Around the same time, changes in oral health also are common as teeth and gums become more susceptible to disease, which can lead to inflammation, pain, bleeding, and loose or missing teeth.
Researchers have found an association between osteoporosis treatment and severe periodontitis in postmenopausal women. They evaluated 492 postmenopausal Brazilian women between the ages of 50 and 87 years, with 113 in osteoporosis treatment and 379 not treated, to determine whether osteoporosis treatment could help increase the bone mineral density in their jaws and improve overall oral health.
According to the study, the rate of occurrence of severe periodontitis was 44% lower in the postmenopausal osteoporosis treatment group than in the untreated group. The treatment comprised systemic estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin, in addition to calcium and vitamin D supplements, for at least 6 months.
“Osteoporosis can occur throughout the body, including the jaw, and lead to an increased risk of periodontal disease,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “This study demonstrates that estrogen therapy, which has proven to be effective in preventing bone loss, may also prevent the worsening of tooth and gum disease. All women, but especially those with low estrogen or on bisphosphonate treatment for osteoporosis, should make good dental care a part of their healthy lifestyles.”