Women’s health is often affected by the fluctuations of hormones through various phases of life. They can change everything from the strength of hair and nails to the condition of the skin, body, and even oral health. Hormones surges in the female body make women prone to gum disease, which can turn dangerous. Estrogen and progesterone can cause more blood flow to enter the gums, thus making them sensitive and susceptible to irritation. This can cause the gums to inflame in the presence of plaque and other bacteria that collect in the mouth. If inflamed gums are left untreated for an extended period of time, it can eventually lead to bone and tooth loss.
There are preventative steps every woman can take through every phase of life to prevent their hormones from wreaking havoc on their gums.
Teenage girls have enough to deal with during adolescence, but the wild hormone fluctuations that often occur can leave their gums swollen and bloody even after a gentle brushing. Since teenagers often also have orthodontic work like braces, gums are already in rare form due to the movement occurring among teeth. They may also encounter unpleasant canker sores, which are painful but often heal without any intervention. Maintaining a proper diet while going through puberty can also help prevent the most common issues that afflict teens, like cavities. A high-quality toothbrush and water cleansing tool are immensely helpful, especially if wearing braces. The best thing teenage girls can do to protect their gums during puberty is to visit the dentist for regular cleanings to remove plaque on their teeth. The less inflamed gums are exposed to build up, the better they will fare through raging hormonal changes.
Many women are unaware of the changes in their mouths right around the time they start their period. Usually, gums become more swollen and even bleed easier than often. Issues with swollen salivary glands are not uncommon, and canker sores typically make an appearance right around this time as well. The symptoms usually last through the period, but if they continue, it may be a sign of further damage. The best way to prevent any severe gum disease is to routinely visit the dentist so they can keep an eye on any spots that seem problematic.
Women who take birth control often deal with side effects of inflammation, but modern oral birth control pills are very low-dose and usually, do not affect the gums negatively. However, women taking oral contraception should notify their dentists just in case they are prescribed medications that may counteract their effectiveness. There has also been a correlation between women who take birth control pills and who suffer from dry socket after an extraction. Overall, birth control pills shouldn’t take a toll on gum health, but it’s always good to stay up on cleanings to ensure that everything is healthy.
Many expecting mothers become surprised at how much pregnancy can affect their oral health. Because pregnancy hormones are so strong, they can develop gingivitis, which causes red and tender gums and some minor discomfort. This happens most often between the second and eighth month of gestation. Preventative care is always best in this case, and pregnant women are urged to keep up with their brushing and flossing. Women are advised to visit the dentist while pregnant to receive frequent cleanings to eliminate the possibility of plaque build-up and gingivitis. Going to the dentist while pregnant is completely safe and will not harm the mother or baby in any way. These cleanings are also recommended towards the end of pregnancy as new mothers are often much too busy to visit the dentist once their newborn is home. Taking care of cleaning close to delivery allows several months for the mother to focus on her baby.
The hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body once it approaches menopause can significantly affect oral health. Many women begin to experience dry mouth symptoms during early menopause, which can lead to cavities due to build-up. Saliva is beneficial in the mouth as it helps rinse particles and bacteria, so when the mouth lacks moisture, it creates a breeding ground for potential decay. Dietary changes can make a big difference with dry mouth, especially avoiding stimulants like caffeine. Very spicy, salty, and sugary foods can also contribute to continual dryness. Those who frequently imbibe in alcohol or chewing tobacco will find that their dry mouth worsens with continued use. It’s also recommended that women keep a humidifier in their rooms to promote moisture in the air while they sleep.
Because bone-loss is attributed to aging and menopause, older women must be particularly careful with their dental maintenance. The loss of bone density proves to be a significant threat that can lead to tooth loss, especially if gums are receding, exposing teeth to even possible decay. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are encouraged for women over 50, as well as a healthy lifestyle. Women experiencing continued or severe dry mouth are urged to speak to their dentists about possible solutions if over the counter solutions and eating and drinking habits are not helping.
Women’s health is always a hot topic, but oftentimes, oral health gets set aside. It’s essential for women to be aware of how their hormones can affect their teeth and gums to ensure they receive proper care. While some gum irritation is typical during hormonal periods, women who notice that these gum issues are constant and persistent are urged to speak with a dental professional about ways to circumvent the problem before it becomes severe. Neglecting the gums can lead to extensive procedures to fix, and extreme cases can lead to periodontal disease. Visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups, x-rays, and cleanings should keep all of those risky possibilities at bay.