Women Encounter More Challenges to Their Oral Health
A woman’s oral health is often directly related to her stage of life. Changes in hormone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause all impact the chemistry of what’s going on in her mouth. It is important for everyone to practice good habits of brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental check-ups, but women need to remain extra vigilant during certain times of increased vulnerability.
Dental Problems for Women can be Caused By:
During puberty the body is going through a vast array of changes. Orally speaking, hormones surges may cause swollen gums (especially during menstruation), herpes-type lesions or ulcers, or gums that are more sensitive to irritants.
Because they contain hormones such as progesterone or estrogen, the use of oral contraceptives (aka birth control pills) can cause additional challenges to a women’s oral health. Long term use may cause an increase risk of gingivitis (red, swollen, or bleeding gums) and women who use birth control pills are twice as likely to develop dry socket.
During pregnancy, surges of the hormones estrogen and progesterone place women at an increased risk for inflammation of the gums, so it’s important to get your regular check-up, and more if necessary. If plaque isn’t removed, it can cause gingivitis—red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed. Women with periodontal disease are also at risk for pre-term, low-birth weight babies.
If you experience morning sickness, it is important to neutralize the acid caused by vomiting which causes tooth erosion. Use a paste made of baking soda and water, rub it on your teeth and wait about 30 seconds. Then rinse thoroughly and follow up with regular brushing and flossing. If this is not possible, rinse with water.
With menopause comes more potential threats to oral health, as some women can experience dry mouth, burning sensation, and changes in taste. Those treated with hormonal replacement therapy sometimes have negative interactions that cause gums to bleed, swell and/or become red.
What Can I Do?
Keep us informed if you experience changes in your oral health or if you are approaching a different life stage. Also, regular dental check-ups will help us see any physical changes in your mouth. Your dentist should complete a thorough medical history to determine if you are at a higher risk for problems.