Women and their dental health Image

19 JANUARY 2021

Women and their dental health

 

We appreciate that women can have a very busy life and always get caught putting others needs before their own. However you deserve to invest the time in your dental health to ensure you have a healthy smile. Because a woman’s mouth, much like her other body systems, has its own unique care.

Female hormonal changes occurring over various life stages and ages can have an impact on oral health. Changes in the levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone amongst others can occur naturally during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause or from medications such as the birth control pill, acne treatments or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) 1.

Change with the times

Puberty – it’s not uncommon for boys and girls to experience effects of hormonal changes in their bodies as they go through puberty. Swollen or bleeding gum can occur as part of ‘puberty gingivitis’. Puberty often coincides with having braces or orthodontic treatment in teens which means more attention is needed to brushing and flossing. A diet low in sugar and fizzy drinks is recommend along with regular check-up visits to your dentist.

Menstruation – many women experience heightened mouth sensitivity in the week before they start their period. Hormonal influences, including plaque build-up often leads to changes in the mouth. Not all women experience menstruation related changes to their oral health - this is dependent on individual makeup.

Pregnancy – pregnancy gingivitis is a time limited condition, often starting in the first trimester but if left untreated can progress to a more chronic long term gum infection. The tissues which hold the teeth in their correct position can become weakened if gum inflammation and bleeding isn’t managed carefully. Red lumpy spots can also form along the gum line and in-between the teeth. These ‘pyogenic granulomas’ are harmless and usually go away once the baby is born. Gum disease in pregnancy may also increase the risk of having a baby born early and with low birth weight. Sensitivity to the teeth and an increased risk of tooth decay can also occur as a result of acidity in the mouth from morning sickness and cravings for food rich in sugar.

Menopause – women going through menopause can describe feelings of a burning sensation in their mouth and changes in their taste. A dry mouth and inflamed gums are not uncommon, as is increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks. Reduction in bone density as a result of menopause can also have a negative impact on the jaw bones and jaw joints. It is important to update your medical history and any medications you are taking when you visit the dentists, especially if you are taking any medication for osteoporosis.

 

Preventing dental health problems, no matter what stage you’re at

Remember you deserve to take care of yourself and that includes time to help keep your mouth healthy by caring well for your teeth and gums by:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice each day with a soft, small headed toothbrush. You may need to brush more gently when your gums are sensitive from hormonal influence.
  • Limiting your intake of sweet foods and eating a nutritious diet. Be especially mindful of food cravings during pregnancy and reach for healthy snacks like yoghurt, (hard) cheese and fruit.
  • Flossing daily, paying special attention to the space between teeth. Wrap the floss in a c shape around the top of each tooth where it meets the gum and remove any food caught in this space. Speak with your dentist if you notice any blood on the floss. This can be a sign of gingivitis and left untreated, may become a risk factor for early labour.
  • Taking care of teeth early in life can help to prevent complication at a later stage.

Dentists at Pacific Smiles Dental are experts when it comes to supporting women during all different life stages. Take a moment to take care of you by booking an appointment with your dentist for regular check ups and to monitor any changes.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4247552/
  2. https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week-2016/Women-and-Oral-Health/Menstruation
  3. https://www.colgate.com.au/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-during-pregnancy