The major hormonal changes a woman experiences during puberty, pregnancy and menopause can all affect her oral health.
More female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause more bloodto flow to the gums, which causes them to become more sensitive and “overreact” to anything that may irritate them. Women are more sensitive to the presence of plaque and bacteria around the gums when the hormone levels are high. This can cause the gums to become inflamed, swell and bleed. If left untreated, ongoing inflammation in the gums can also leadto bone loss around the teeth and eventual tooth loss.
It is not uncommon for gums to swell and bleed prior to menstruation. Some women may also suffer from the formation of canker sores. These symptoms typically disappear once their period arrives.
During pregnancy, the body is in hormonal hyper drive. Some women find they have developed pregnancy gingivitis—a mild form of gum disease that causes gums to be red, tender and sore. Developing gum disease can affect the health of the developing baby.
Women going through menopause are likely to experience dry mouth and bone loss. Losing bone in the jaw can lead to tooth loss. The decreased estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at risk for a loss of bone density. Signs of bone loss in the jaw can be something as simple as receding gums. When gums recede, more of the tooth is exposed and that puts more of the tooth at risk for decay. And if the mouth is dry, that’s a double whammy.
Hormones are a fact of life, but gum disease, not so much. It is actually preventable and reversible in its early stages. So what is a woman to do? She can start by paying extra attention and taking good care of her mouth during these different hormonal stages. Discuss these things with a dentist, ideally before any symptoms begin to appear.
E Dental Solutions is located at 2504 E. River Rd., Tucson. Connect at 520-745-5496 or EDentalSolutions.net. See ad, back cover.