You may already know that hormones can affect a woman’s mood, weight, and food cravings, but did you know they can also have an affect on her oral health? The hormonal changes a woman faces may make her more susceptible to dental health problems.
Hormones affect the body’s response to toxins caused by dental plaque, as well as the supply of blood to the gums. These changes make women more susceptible to gum disease and other oral health concerns. If you have questions regarding the relationship of hormones to your oral health, or would like to schedule an appointment to address these issues, call Docklands Dental Studio at (03) 9021-9487, and our attentive staff will be happy to help you.
When Women are at Risk
There are five times in a woman’s life when her dental health is at a heightened risk. These are puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, when taking birth control pills, and menopause.
- Puberty – During puberty, estrogen and progesterone production surge, which can increase blood flow to the gums and cause them to become red, swollen, and tender. The gums are more likely to bleed during brushing and flossing, and are more susceptible to gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular cleanings from your dentist, will help prevent gingivitis from developing.
- Menstruation – During the monthly menstrual cycle, the body increases progesterone production. This causes some women to experience bright red or bleeding gums, canker sores, and swollen salivary glands, while other women notice nothing at all. Most issues occur a few days before the woman’s period, and clear up shortly after it has started. Proper dental hygiene will help prevent gingivitis, and over-the-counter topical remedies can treat most cold sores.
- Pregnancy – Over half of all pregnant women experience some level of gingivitis, usually during the second to eighth month. Make sure your dentist knows you are pregnant, as he may recommend more frequent cleanings during the second or third trimester. Pregnant women may also see a rise in cavities, due to late night cravings. Saliva production decreases at night, and women are less likely to brush after these snacks, allowing bacteria to thrive and cause decay. Another issue during pregnancy is morning sickness. If you experience morning sickness, rinse your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup of warm water to wash away any stomach acids remaining in the mouth after vomiting.
- Taking Birth Control Pills – In the past, many women have experienced an increase in progesterone that caused their gums to become inflamed when taking oral birth control. Studies are being conducted now on birth control pills currently on the market, as they have much lower amounts of hormones than pills of the past, and this may no longer be an issue. If you do experience inflammation in the gums, brushing and flossing, combined with regular cleanings should resolve the issue.
- Menopause – About half of all women experience no dental irregularities during menopause, but many experience altered taste, increased sensitivity to hot and cold, and a decrease in saliva production. Low saliva levels can contribute to an increase in tooth decay, because there is not enough saliva to wash away the bacteria in the mouth and neutralize acids. Some medications can cause dry mouth as well, increasing the potential for decay in older women. The decline in estrogen during menopause can lead to a greater risk of bone loss, and when this occurs in the jaw, it can further complicate bone necrosis by advanced periodontis.
Call Our Office Today
If you feel that you are experiencing any of these issues or would like more information on the link between hormones and oral health, please call Docklands Dental Studio at (03) 9021-9487 today, and our caring staff will be happy to help.