Womens Oral Health and Hormones: What You Need to Know
This week marks Women’s Health Week (September 3rd-7th) 2018. Women’s Health Week is the annual campaign that encourages women to put themselves first for a week and think about their health and wellbeing.
Women have unique oral health concerns. Changing hormone levels during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can raise your risk of problems in your mouth, teeth, or gums.
What is the Link Between Women’s Oral Health and Hormones?
Women have an increased sensitivity to oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes they experience.
These hormonal changes not only affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also the body’s response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque build-up. Because of these changes, women are more prone to the development of periodontal disease and other oral health issues at certain stages of their lives.
What are causes and symptoms of hormonal changes that may affect oral health in women?
There are five stages in a woman’s life during which changes in hormone levels make them more susceptible to oral health problems – puberty, the monthly menstruation cycle, when using oral contraceptives, during pregnancy, and at menopause.
The Five Hormonal Stages of Life that Impact Womens Oral Health
The surge in production of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone that occurs during puberty can increase the blood flow to the gums and change the way gum tissue reacts to bacterial plaque.
The increased boood flow causes the gum tissue to become red, tender, and swollen, and more likely to bleed during brushing and flossing.
Due to the hormonal changes (particularly the increase in progesterone) that occur during the menstrual cycle, some women experience oral changes that can include bright red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, development of canker sores, or bleeding gums.
Menstruation gingivitis usually occurs a day or two before the start of the period and clears up shortly after the period has started.
Women who take certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) that contain progesterone can experience inflamed gum tissues due to the body’s exaggerated reaction to the toxins produced from plaque.
More recently released birth control pills, however, have lower concentrations of the hormones, which lessens the inflammatory response of the gums to dental plaque.
Hormone levels change significantly during pregnancy. An increased level of the hormone progesterone in particular can increase your susceptibility to oral health problems, in particular, bacterial plaque causing gingivitis. This is most likely to occur during the second to eighth month of pregnancy. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis where the gums become swollen and bleed easily.
Your dentist might recommend more frequent professional cleanings during your second or early third trimester to help reduce the chance of developing gingivitis.
Numerous changes may occur with your oral health as you age. For women who enter the hormonal phase of Menopause many unexpected oral health changes and symptoms can occur.
The oral changes that can occur include altered taste, a burning sensation in the mouth, greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages. There may even be a decreased salivary flow that can result in an uncomfortable dry mouth.
Top tips to help prevent oral health issues for women throughout all stages of life:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. Floss at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a professional oral examination and cleaning.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
- Don’t smoke-smoking increases your risk of gum disease and mouth and throat cancers. It can also stain your teeth and cause bad breath.
- If you have dry mouth, ask your dentist about treatments for this condition.
For more on this topic – download the Dental Care Professionals Fact Sheet: The Impact of Hormones on Oral Health.
This Women’s Health Week put your oral health first and book that appointment with your dentist that you have been putting off. It is importance to achieve optimal oral health in order to enjoy overall health and wellbeing.
The team at Dental Care Professionals are here to help, with two convenient locations in Adelaide CBD and Brighton, they can fit you in no matter how busy your schedule.
Your oral health is essential for vitality. Book an appointment today, call 8232 3280Leave a reply →