It’s Women’s Health Month, which is the perfect time to learn more about the connection between hormones and oral health.
Estrogen and progesterone hormones begin the process of puberty, triggering gum reactions leading to redness, bleeding, and swelling. Gums may react differently to germs and bacteria in the mouth of pubescent women, resulting in cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. Adolescent women may also experience canker sores and swollen salivary glands during their menstrual cycle. Regular dental cleanings and exams and maintaining good oral health are key to healthy gums and teeth.
Use of Birth Control
Women using birth control pills or oral contraceptives should inform their dentist as maintaining good oral health while taking these medications is crucial. Hormone levels in women using birth control pills, especially those containing progesterone, can increase blood flow to the gums, heightening their risk for developing gum disease.
It may not seem like oral healthcare has much to do with pregnancy, but a mother’s oral health can affect the overall health of her baby. It’s important to pay close attention to dental care during pregnancy when an abundance of estrogen and progesterone can cause dental-related changes. “Pregnancy gingivitis” is common, which is an inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. Gingivitis can lead to a more severe form of gum disease, increasing the risk of pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Professional cleanings help keep gingivitis and gum disease in check, along with maintaining good oral health habits.
Menopausal women need to pay special attention to their oral health. Post-menopausal women often experience dry mouth due to a decrease in saliva production, and some medications increase the risk. Saliva helps defend against periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay as it washes food off teeth, neutralizes acids, fights germs, and prevents bad breath. Menopausal women experiencing dry mouth should alert their dentist.
Hormonal changes can also increase a woman’s risk of osteoporosis, which is shown to cause bone loss in the body and can increase the risk of tooth loss in the jaw. Women can prevent oral health effects of osteoporosis through nutritious eating habits that include plenty of calcium and vitamin D. They should also discuss proper treatment options with a doctor and dentist.
Hormones are a fact of life, but they don’t have to interfere with a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy smile at every age and stage of life. W
“Today, dentistry is considered integrated dental medicine, and dentists are trained to recognize very early signs of disease and functional inefficiencies. It’s vitally important to stay on a maintenance schedule as outlined by a dentist you trust.” ~Margareta Gavrila, DDS