By Kimberly Clark, Guest Writer
Unlike men, women experience different hormonal changes that impact their mood, weight, and dental health. As a result, women are more prone to oral health issues during some stages of their life. Apart from dictating your feelings and mood, hormones influence blood delivery to gum tissues. Hormones also determine the body’s reaction to the toxins resulting from the accumulation of the plaque. Due to the changes, women are likely to face periodontal diseases as well as other oral health issues.
So, when do women become more susceptible to oral health problems? There are five stages in a woman’s life when fluctuation in the hormonal levels expose them to oral issues. Women have increased sensitivity during puberty, menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, when using birth control pills, and at menopause. To improve your oral health, you need to understand what happens during these critical stages in a woman’s life.
Puberty is the stage where the body undergoes various transitions as one becomes an adult. Although a lot of things are going on during this stage, most people fail to realize what goes on in the mouth as the production of sex hormones such as progesterone and estrogen starts. At this time, the blood supply to the gums is high, which in turn makes them more sensitive to plaque and highly irritable by food particles. The condition is also known as puberty gingivitis often leaves you with swollen, red gums that are vulnerable to bleeding.
Observing proper dental hygiene like flossing daily and brushing twice a day helps a lot in preventing gingivitis. But if some plaque was present before entering puberty, then gingivitis can easily crop up. However, regular professional cleaning done by an expert, flossing, and brushing helps to treat the condition. People having severe cases of gingivitis should undergo at least two professional cleanings in a year.
Besides, eating healthy foods is also good for your oral health. Including a variety of foods rich in nutrients from different food groups, promote healthy gums and teeth. Always eat a balanced diet that has fruits, protein foods, vegetables, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods. They have essential nutrients good for your overall health and oral health as well.
2. During Monthly Menstrual Cycle
You might have noticed the outburst of emotion or cravings when you are on your monthly periods. But have you ever thought that the same hormones could be responsible for sensitive gums? Well, research indicates that the change of hormones during the menstrual cycle can affect your oral health. Even though women observe better dental care than guys, the changes in hormones can cause dental issues. It is because the gingival tissues contain many estrogen receptors that respond to the highs and lows of hormones. During this period, you may experience oral changes such as bleeding gums, develop canker sores, swollen salivary glands, or bright red swollen gums. It is due to the increase in progesterone.
3. Use of Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills offer a convenient, simple, and safe way of preventing pregnancy. Besides, the tablets also reduce acne, make your periods lighter and regular and eases menstrual cramps. Birth control pills have progesterone. So, by taking the pills, the level of progesterone hormone in the body increases. When this happens, your body might experience inflamed gum tissues as a result of the reactions to the toxins coming from the plaque.
The most noticeable changes in the gums start appearing after a few months of using birth control pills. But to reduce the effects of the hormones, manufacturers are now producing contraceptives with a low concentration of the hormone. This, in turn, reduces the inflammatory reactions of the gums to the dental plaque.
When you visit your dentist, you should let him/her know if you are using oral contraceptives. It is because the dentist might prescribe you antibiotics that lessen the effectiveness of oral birth control pills. It is essential to inform the dentist about the full details of the medicine that you are taking to avoid any complications.
Various hormone changes occur during pregnancy. The increase in production of hormones such as progesterone is responsible for gum diseases, also known as pregnancy gingivitis something common between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. Some of the signs of this condition include swollen gums. The swollen gums are due to the increase in blood flow to tissues, which makes them sore and vulnerable to bleeding. The high blood flow to the gum tissues makes them more sensitive and irritable.
The hormone changes also affect the body’s response to bacteria, which might lead to periodontal infections. As a result, the accumulation of plaque on your teeth becomes easy and makes you more vulnerable to gingivitis.
Menopause can cause oral health problems. As you grow old, you might start experiencing reduced salivary flow leading to dry mouth, increased sensitivity to cold or hot foods. The oral changes are due to taking medications that combat certain diseases, and hormonal changes caused by menopause.
Having a dry mouth can cause gum disease or tooth decay since there is no saliva for moistening, cleansing, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque in the mouth. Prescriptions and medicine provided over the counter to older adults can also cause dry mouth.
Furthermore, the decline in the production of estrogen, which happens during menopause exposes women to the risks of losing bone density and might result in tooth loss. When the condition affects the jawbone, it causes receding gums, which also exposes more parts of your tooth to tooth decay.
Hormone changes affect women’s dental health during these stages of life. To manage the conditions, observing good dental care is essential. It is important to floss and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Also, make sure that you use a soft toothbrush because it causes less irritation to your gums.
For maximum dental care, keep a regular schedule with a professional to allow proper cleaning and other discussions with your dentist. If the condition is left untreated, it can quickly escalate to severe dental diseases. Depending on your situation, your dentist can recommend a suitable procedure such as sedation dentistry to rectify any dental issues. Although most of the stages are unavoidable, the good news is that observing good oral hygiene alongside regular professional cleaning will help you keep your teeth healthy.