An astounding 84% of women aged 50 and over are unaware that some of the oral health symptoms and discomfort they experience could be related to menopause, according to Delta Dental’s 2023 Senior Oral Health and Menopause Report: Breaking the Stigma.
The survey also revealed that most women who are experiencing menopause are unaware of how dental providers can help them address symptoms related to menopause and recommend treatments. Though 70% of women 50 and older indicated they have experienced at least one oral health symptom since beginning menopausal symptoms, only 2% have discussed their concerns with their dentist and only 1% with their dental hygienist.
“With menopause a long-stigmatized topic and symptoms going largely unaddressed or even ignored, these findings are stark but unsurprising,” says Sarah Chavarria, President at Delta Dental. “Despite the knowledge gaps revealed in this survey, sentiments about menopause are beginning to shift, and women are eager to break the stigma. At Delta Dental, we are committed to empowering more whole-person care that incorporates oral health into overall physician care and wellbeing, including in menopause. Being more open will help make treatment plans more accessible for all people who experience menopause.”
Of the over 1,000 women surveyed, 70% who have begun experiencing menopausal symptoms say they have noticed at least one of the following oral health symptoms: dry mouth (39%), receding gumlines (30%), tooth sensitivity or pain (28%), tooth decay (20%), bleeding gums (16%), altered taste (13%), reduced saliva production (13%) or burning tongue (5%).
Despite experiencing these common symptoms, most women didn’t associate them with hormone shifts. While 39% said they experienced dry mouth, 77% were not aware dry mouth can be related to menopause.
The survey also revealed that despite these gaps, nearly half of women 50 and older indicated they are extremely or moderately curious to learn more about how menopause and hormonal changes affect oral health as they age. In a promising sign, after learning about the connection between menopause and oral health care, respondents indicated they were moved to make changes in their life to help improve their oral health.