Review on June 08, 2009
Around 32% of post menopausal women in the USA have some form of tooth loss due to gum problems usually developed during menopause. Such tooth loss results in the use of dentures and the likelihood of painful gum problems. Recently, researchers from the Harvard Medical School have made the link between osteoporosis and tooth loss. Several studies have already proven that osteoporosis can cause tooth loss and gum problems as we age.
This new study by the team at Harvard Medical School has looked at the use of osteoporosis treatments, namely estrogen treatment, in the effective management of menopausal gum problems. This study included what became known as 'The Nurses Health Study' starting in 1976, which used 121, 700 female nurses aged between 30 and 55 years in order to assess the causes of gum problems. These nurses completed general health questionnaires throughout this trail to establish any medical factors which might affect potential gum problems. Every two years until 1996 the questionnaire was sent out to these women, with a 90% completion rate at the end of the study.
Each questionnaire assessed the dental health and gum problems of each woman, as well as asking about any menopausal hormone treatments she may be taking.
In order to draw conclusions from the massive about of data compiled, the medical team decided to focus on women who had or were currently undertaking hormone treatment during menopause and they gum problems they suffered. Results show that a large proportion of the women undergoing hormone treatment lost 1 or less teeth after they started treatment, regardless of the amount of gum problems they suffered prior to this.
Researchers maintain that,
"dental care practices such as tooth brushing and flossing", are the best prevention for gum problems. However this research could be an important step towards treatment of menopausal gum problems and it's important that women are aware of treatments for conditions which may otherwise develop and result in large scale tooth loss.