Tooth erosion, gum disease, and other oral health problems can be prevented with good oral hygiene practices. Women, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to hormonal changes caused by puberty, certain forms of birth control, pregnancy, and menopause, which can have an effect on oral health. March is dedicated to all Women’s, so it’s a great time to learn more about the connection between hormones and oral health in women. Morning sickness and acid reflux may erode the protective barrier that keeps teeth from decaying. Cavities, loose teeth, gum disease, and pregnancy oral tumours are all common oral health issues during pregnancy. Women with oral health issues are more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as osteoporosis.
Various Hormonal Changes Related to Women & Oral Health
During different stages of their lives, women have different oral health needs. The way gums respond to the plaque is exaggerated by changes in female hormone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. In order to avoid gum disease, women should brush and floss their teeth thoroughly every day during this period.
Puberty is triggered by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which cause reactions in the gums that cause redness, bleeding, and swelling of the lips. Gums in pubescent women’s mouths can react differently to germs and bacteria, resulting in cavities and bad breath, as well as gingivitis (gum inflammation characterised by redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding). During her menstrual cycle, a woman can also develop canker sores and swollen salivary glands. Good gums and teeth in adolescent women can be achieved by practising good oral hygiene practises and visiting the dentist for cleanings and examinations on a regular basis.
Use of Birth Control
Women who use oral contraceptives or birth control pills should tell their dentist. It is important to maintain good oral health when taking this drug. Hormone levels, especially those containing progesterone, can increase blood flow to the gums in women taking birth control pills. A woman’s risk of contracting gum disease is increased as a result of this. In addition to it, the dentist will prescribe some antibiotics which will help to treat gum disease.
Since a mother’s oral health can influence her baby’s overall health, it’s important to pay careful attention to dental hygiene and any adjustments that might occur when she’s pregnant. Many dental changes during pregnancy are caused by an overabundance of oestrogen and progesterone. Pregnant women are more likely to experience “pregnancy gingivitis,” which is an inflammation of the gums and underlying tissues marked by redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. Gingivitis may progress to a more serious type of gum disease, increasing the risk of preterm and low-birth-weight babies in pregnant women.
Professional cleanings, along with good oral health practices including brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly, paying particular attention to the gum line, can help keep conditions like gingivitis or gum disease ease.
Women going through menopause should pay particular attention to their oral health. Dry mouth is common in postmenopausal women due to a reduction in saliva production. Certain drugs can make you more susceptible to dry mouth. Dry mouth in menopausal women should be reported to their dentist. Menopause’s hormonal changes can also raise a woman’s risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes bone loss in the body. Bone loss in the jaw increases the risk factor in tooth loss. Women can avoid the oral health effects of osteoporosis by consuming a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, as well as discussing treatment options with their doctor and dentist.
Is There a Link between my Oral Health and my Overall Health?
There are many studies done on women, a growing body of research has linked various gum diseases to a variety of health problems that will affect women. As gum disease is a bacterial infection it can enter the bloodstream and be a factor in causing other health complications:
Diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk of gum disease, which may make it more difficult for diabetics to regulate their blood sugar. Even in healthy people, gum disease can be a risk factor for diabetes.
Respiratory Problems: Bacteria that develop in the mouth can migrate to the lungs and cause respiratory infections like pneumonia, particularly in people who have gum disease.
Pregnancy Outcomes: Pregnant women with gum disease may have a higher risk of having a baby who is born too soon or too small. Increased levels of biological fluids that induce labour can also be caused by gum disease.
Hormonal changes affect not only the blood supply to the gum tissue but also the body’s response to the bacteria (toxins) found in plaque buildup – the white, sticky substance that collects on teeth, especially around the gum line. As a result, women are more vulnerable to periodontal disease and other oral health issues at some points in their lives.
Some of the major risk factors can be:
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint)
- Chronic Muscle pain
- Eating disorders that may cause acid to erode enamel
- Sjögren’s syndrome (Leads to dry mouth)
Women’s Oral Health Tips
So, despite the fact that you take better care of your teeth and gums than men, your hormones are working against you, leading to gum disease and bone loss. However, there is still time to act! Schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your gum health and how you can improve your oral hygiene if you suspect you have gum disease. Instead, be sure to follow these general tips for keeping the teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Rinse your mouth with a nonalcoholic mouthwash every day
- Chew gum after every meal
- Try to change your toothbrush at least for 3 to 4 times a year
- Avoid any artificial sweetened foods and drinks
- If you are playing any kind of sports wear a mouthguard
- Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol
Hormones are unavoidable and part of life, but they can’t limit a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy smile of any age or level. Brushing, flossing, visiting the dentist on a regular basis, and eating a balanced diet are all safe ways for women to improve their oral health.