Women’s Oral Health
With fluctuating hormone levels, women have special oral health requirements during various phases in their lives. A growing body of research has linked gum disease to a variety of health problems that affect women, including heart disease, stroke: diabetes, respiratory problems.
How is gum disease linked to these conditions? Well, bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can travel throughout the body. Because gum disease is a bacterial infection that’s usually painless, many women may not even realize they have it until it reaches an advanced state. Your best defense is to brush and floss daily and schedule regular visits to the office. As partners in your dental health care plan, my staff and I are here to ensure that you get the best care possible.
During puberty, sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause a female’s body to mature. In addition to the visible body changes, these hormones can change the way the gums respond to germs in the mouth. The gums can become more susceptible to infections and may become red, swollen, and frequently bleed.
The oral concerns associated with the onset of puberty are much the same during the menstrual cycle. Occasionally, women who are prone to canker sores and cold sores. A pattern may develop where sores recur during every menstrual cycle.
Canker sores most often heal on their own in one to three weeks. Make sure to come in to the office if you get a large sore (larger than a half inch, or about the size of a dime), since you may need medicine to treat it.
To Help With Pain
- Avoid hot, spicy foods
- Use mild mouthwashes or salt water
- Try over-the-counter pain medicines
Dental care is an important piece of the health-care plan for all pregnant women. The best time for treatment is between the 14th and 20th weeks, and our front desk staff is here to help you get the right treatment at the right time.
Because birth control pills mimic the effects of pregnancy, women may experience the gum tissue changes previously discussed. In addition to these changes, women on birth control pills may be more prone to healing problems after tooth extraction. This can lead to what is known as a “dry socket,” a painful condition that can increase the likelihood of bone inflammation during the healing process. To help avoid this condition, schedule the extraction appointment during the non-estrogen “sugar pill” days (days 23-28) of the pill cycle.
Pregnancy and nursing have a tendency to cause sensitive teeth and gum problems, which can be attributed to the mother’s nutrients transferring to the baby. Maintaining oral health for the prevention of bone loss around the teeth is important for nursing mothers.
This life change often brings on a host of other changes. Some women develop burning mouth syndrome, red or inflamed gums, oral pain and discomfort, burning sensations, altered taste sensations and dry mouth.
Bone loss and osteoporosis are other issues that many menopausal women need treated, and a number of studies have suggested a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Researchers suggest this may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports teeth may be decreased. When combined with gum disease, osteoporosis speeds up the process of bone loss around the teeth.
The good news is that many of the conditions associated with hormone changes/fluctuations are AVOIDABLE.
- Maintain good daily oral care by brushing twice daily with toothpaste containing fluoride and by flossing once daily.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist or dental hygienist every six months (or more frequently if recommended).
- Eat a well balanced diet. To maintain the support system around the teeth, include daily doses of Folate, B vitamins, protein, calcium and vitamin C.