All women over the age of 12 are familiar with the effects hormones can have on their life. However, few of us think about hormones having an impact on our oral health. Some women experience oral changes that can include bright red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, development of canker sores, or bleeding gums. In this article, we would like to explore hormones and your oral health.
What Every Woman Needs To Know
You may be surprised to learn that hormone surges may make you more vulnerable to gum disease. Here’s why: Female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause more blood to flow to your 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 your gums to become inflamed, swell and bleed. If left untreated, ongoing inflammation in the gums can also lead to bone loss around the teeth and eventual tooth loss.
Five Main Times In A Woman’s Life When Hormones Fluctuate
When do hormones tend to most fluctuate?
- Puberty: Raging hormones can leave a teenage girl’s gums red, swollen, and bleeding. (In some cases, the gums’ overreaction to plaque may cause gums to actually grow bigger.) Some teenage girls may also find themselves developing canker sores, which usually heal on their own. Good oral care during this time is critically important. Especially if the young girl has orthodontics because this is usually the age when braces are put on, if needed.
- During the monthly menstrual cycle: The hormonal fluctuations occur as part of the monthly menstrual cycle. Some women may also experience temporary gingivitis that occurs one or two days before menstruation but resolves itself shortly after the onset of menstruation. If it does not end when your period ends, speak to a dentist.
- When using oral contraception: Taking birth control pills that contain progesterone increases progesterone levels in the body and can cause oral changes similar to the ones described above. Birth control should be included on your list of medications to discuss with your dentist during your visits, especially if you are going to have oral surgery.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy your body is in hormonal hyperdrive. Some women find they have developed pregnancy gingivitis — a mild form of gum disease that causes gums to be red, tender, and sore. It is most common between the second and eighth months of pregnancy, and you can help keep it under control through good daily habits. Stay on top of your brushing. Stay on top of your flossing and be meticulous about the care of your entire body. Visiting your dentist during pregnancy is incredibly important. In fact, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings during your second trimester and early third trimester to help control gingivitis. If you notice any other changes in your mouth during pregnancy, see your dentist.
- Menopause: In addition to fluctuating changes in hormones during menopause, women are also likely to be taking medication that leads to dry mouth. Saliva helps to rinse the mouth of bacteria and food particles, so without it or less of it, tooth decay and gum disease have a higher likelihood. Several oral changes can occur during menopause due to the natural aging process, hormonal changes that accompany menopause, or the use of certain medications to combat the onset of age-related diseases. Menopausal women also experience a decline in estrogen that increase their risk of bone loss, including jawbone loss. Without an ample amount of jawbone matter, the teeth may loosen and fall out. To help reduce your risk of bone loss, work with your dentist or physician to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D, don’t smoke, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
We would like to raise awareness about women’s oral health issues, so they are diligent about practicing good oral hygiene practices and visiting their dentist twice a year for exams and teeth cleanings. The dental visits can help monitor women’s oral health and let them know if any problems are developing. Use good oral health every day by brushing twice a day, rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash, chewing sugar free gum after eating to increase saliva, and talking to your dentist about any concerns.
About Torbeck Dental
Torbeck Dental treats every patient with dignity and excellent care. We are highly trained dental professionals with exceptionally friendly and helpful service. We understand that for many, visiting a dentist can be a stressful experience so our comfortable surroundings and compassionate staff will ease any fears you may have. We are here to help you achieve your happiest and healthiest smile! Our dental team are a group of experienced professionals using the latest treatments. Our team has the professional experience to realize that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment, so we never use a one-size-fits-all approach to your dental plan. We provide quality and personalized oral health care while keeping your individuality in mind. Our goal is to improve and maintain your oral health so you can smile with confidence!