If you are in menopause, then your hormones are probably fluctuating, especially your estrogen levels. As women age, their estrogen levels decline, and while estrogen is essential to healthy bones, it is also thought to play an important role in oral health. If you are considering dental implants, a low estrogen level may affect the way your tooth implants heal. Here are some ways decreased estrogen levels can affect your implant procedure and what you can do about them:
Not only can low estrogen cause weakness and brittleness of the bones in your spine, hips, neck, and knees, but it can also lead to deformity and weakness of your jaw bones and the bones that support your teeth. If you develop bone problems as a result of low estrogen levels, you may have problems with shifting of your implants.
If you are menopausal, make an appointment with your physician, who can order an estrogen blood test. If your level is low, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy, which may help improve the condition of your oral health.
Although estrogen can help slow the progression of brittle bone disease, it may not be recommended if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, uterine cancer, or cancer of the endometrium or ovaries. Estrogen is thought to fuel gynecological cancers, and because of this risk, your healthcare provider may recommend a prescription osteoporosis medication instead of hormone replacement therapy for optimal bone health.
Another way low estrogen levels can affect your dental implants procedure is that it can cause excessive bleeding during and after your procedure. Menopausal women who have low estrogen levels may be at risk for developing periodontitis, which is a severe form of gingivitis.
This condition can cause gum pain, inflammation, infection, bone destruction, and prolonged bleeding after dental procedures. If you are menopausal and develop any of the aforementioned signs of periodontitis, see your dentist right away.
He or she may recommend that you make an appointment with a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the gums. Also, your oral surgeon may delay your implant surgery until your periodontitis has been resolved to reduce your risk of a severe infection, bone damage, excessive pain, and bleeding. In rare cases, untreated periodontitis can cause an oral hemorrhage during dental procedures, which may lead to anemia.
Low estrogen levels can also cause your gums to recede. Extreme gum recession needs to be evaluated and treated prior to your implant procedure because the implanted teeth may have an unusual or unnatural appearance if your receding gums are left untreated.
To help slow the progression of gum recession, your dentist may recommend that you increase your intake of vitamin C–rich foods such as oranges, grapefruits, spinach, and broccoli. Vitamin C helps heal gum tissue and may help promote the production of healthy collagen.
If you are unable to tolerate foods high in vitamin C content, consider taking an over-the-counter supplement. Your dentist or physician can recommend the appropriate dosage of vitamin C and will warn you against taking mega doses. High doses of vitamin C can cause upper digestive pain and diarrhea and may also raise your risk for developing kidney stones.
If you are a menopausal woman and are considering dental implants, talk to your physician about getting your estrogen levels checked. If your lab results reveal that your levels are low, follow your doctor's recommended treatment plan, and then discuss it with your dentist prior to your dental implant surgery. The more your dentist knows about your current health and hormonal status, the less likely you will be to experience post-operative complications following your procedure.