June 13, 2013
by Kahaliah Richards
Surveys of adult patients in the waiting rooms of UK and Ontario dental practices show that almost half are age 50+. That means that 1 in 4 patients are women entering or experiencing menopause.
In the current issue of the Australian Dental Journal, a study shows that women in menopause produce significantly less saliva when given a stimulant such as citric acid (refer to S2 and S3 in Chart 1). The average age in the menopause group was 53 years while that in the control group was 29 years. None of the women in the menopause group in this study were taking xerogenic medications.
Importantly, these women reported no difference in their salivary flow than the younger women in the control group.
In the risk assessment form used by patients attending the Partners in Prevention dental practices, patients are asked if they have a dry mouth. Between 10% to 15% report this symptom. But this study indicates patients may well under-report this risk factor.
So dental professionals need to be acutely aware that their patients in menopause have significantly lower salivary flow upon stimulation, and are thereby more susceptible to dental decay.