New research forecasts that over one in four post-menopausal women are likely to suffer from tooth loss over a five year period.

A study of over 1,000 post-menopausal women indicates that around one in four are likely to suffer tooth loss over a five year period, and the risk increases to nearly 90 per cent if other risk factors are present, especially diabetes and if they smoke.

The American based study found that 293 post-menopausal women out of 1,021 (28.7 per cent) had suffered from tooth loss over the five year study period. Previous studies have potentially linked the menopause to tooth loss because of factors such as bone loss and oestrogen deficiency. The impact of the menopause may go some way to explain why women more often suffer from tooth loss, despite generally having better oral health than men.

The research, published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology (2), is one of the few studies to chart the oral health of post-menopausal women over time and is likely to be informative to help target high risk groups.

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: "Tooth loss can occur in anyone at any age, but this latest research quantifies a substantial risk to women in the post menopausal period.

"What is also clear from the research is that the cumulative effects of risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, weight and previous poor oral health all combine to create an exceptionally high risk of tooth loss, which will have a further impact on quality of life and self-image. For this group of people the researchers forecast the risk will more than treble to between eight and nine out of every ten women suffering tooth loss.

"It is clearly a period of life when special attention needs to be given to maintaining good oral health. A simple routine of brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between the teeth with interdental brushes or dental floss, good eating habits, having sugary foods and drinks less often and regular dental check-ups can help prevent problems.

"Although most people brush regularly, many don't clean between their teeth and some people don't have regular dental check-ups. A few small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in the long run. Dentists or dental hygienists can remove any build-up on your teeth and treat any gum disease that has already appeared. But daily dental care is up to you, and the main weapons are the toothbrush and inter-dental cleaning.

"For many women the menopause is a sensitive subject. If anyone is concerned about their oral health during this time, including other issues such as oral dryness, our confidential Dental Helpline is able to provide free and independent advice on 0845 063 1188."


1. Clinical and community risk models of incident tooth loss in postmenopausal women from the Buffalo Osteo Perio Study. Christopher Bole, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Kathleen M. Hovey, Robert J. Genco, Ernest Hausmann. Article first published online: 4 NOV 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2010.00555.x © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

British Dental Health Foundation