The Australian Dental Association’s Dental Health Week, which runs from August 1st to August 7th, has a particular focus on women’s oral health this year.
The annual event will focus on the significant way that hormones can have an impact on a woman’s oral health during the various stages of her of life – from puberty, menstruation, pregnancy to menopause.
Here is how a woman’s oral health may be affected by hormone changes throughout her lifetime.
Oral health and Puberty
When girls go through puberty, there is an increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which increases blood flow to the gums. This upsurge in hormones triggers the dilation of small blood vessels in the gums that can result in redness, bleeding and swelling.
Additionally, cavities and bad breath are more likely during this time and gums tend to become more susceptible to infections, such as gingivitis.
Oral health and Menstruation
Menstruation can cause problems similar to female puberty due to excess production of hormones, including gingivitis. In fact, many women report an increase in gum inflammation and discomfort associated with their menstrual cycle.
Menstruation gingivitis usually occurs a day or two before the start of the period and clears up shortly after the period has started.
Oral health and Pregnancy
It goes without saying that hormone levels change considerably throughout a woman’s pregnancy.
During pregnancy, more than half of all women (60 to 70 percent) experience a condition called “pregnancy gingivitis” due to an increased level of progesterone. This is more common in those with previous gum problems than those who have otherwise healthy gums and good brushing and flossing habits.
Your Core Dental dentist may recommend more frequent professional cleanings during your second or early third trimester to help reduce the chance of developing gingivitis.
Oral health and Menopause
Menopausal women experience a decrease in hormones, which can result in various oral health issues, including:
- Burning mouth syndrome: This discomfort may affect the tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth or widespread areas of your whole mouth. The burning sensation can be severe, as if you have scalded your mouth.
- Dry mouth: A decrease in estrogen can cause mouth dryness.
- Gum inflammation: Gums can bleed easily and appear pale, dry and shiny.
- Periodontitis: Inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth.
- Bone loss in the mouth may be related to osteoporosis.
How to stay gum disease-free
- Brush gently and thoroughly at least twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night
- Spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth and don’t overdo it, as brushing for too long or hard can wear away the thin top layer of gum
- Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste to help protect your teeth from decay and gingivitis
- Floss daily
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid eating too much sugar
- Attend six monthly dental checkups