Top Facts About Women’s Oral Health
Oral health doesn’t exist in a bubble–it’s an integral part of our overall wellness. All of the body’s systems are linked, from the immune system to the nervous system to the endocrine system. A fluctuation in one system will surely be felt throughout the body, even in our mouths!
Hormones play a big role in our lives, throughout our growth and development. These events influence women’s oral health in ways that most people rarely think about. From puberty to pregnancy to menopause, there are oral health considerations that coincide.
Hormones Are A Big Deal
When we think of hormones affecting our daily lives, we may think of acne, fatigue or emotions. It turns out that hormones have a lot to do with oral health as well. Changing hormone levels can cause inflammation throughout the body. This can manifest in swollen gums or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be prevented by twice-daily brushing, flossing and mouthwash. When you brush, be sure to use small and gentle motions up and away from the gumline.
The Menstrual Cycle
Menstruation is often accompanied by side effects such as bloating, cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne. Added to that list are also oral inflammation and canker sores. Elevated levels of progesterone can cause swelling in the gums, making them more tender and prone to bleeding.
Canker sores are small ulcers that form within the mouth. They are not contagious and usually go away shortly after the menstrual cycle is finished.
Since hormones have such a major effect on oral health, it makes sense that introducing exogenous hormones to the body would also cause changes. The body’s hormone levels may be unsteady immediately after a new type of birth control is adopted. All sorts of physical changes can be experienced during that time.
Hormonal birth control often raises levels of estrogen and progesterone. This can increase swelling in the gums, leading to gingivitis. Increased hormone levels can also affect how the body recovers after in-depth dental procedures, such as tooth removal. Make sure to inform your dentist if you’re taking any type of birth control before undergoing a procedure.
Pregnancy causes a great number of changes to a woman’s body. At some points, it can feel like it’s someone else’s body entirely! Pregnancy can cause nausea, especially in the first trimester, which may make it difficult to brush teeth. It can be helpful to avoid strongly flavoured toothpaste and mouthwashes if you’re experiencing nausea.
Morning sickness is also an issue for many pregnant women and the pH of stomach acid can wear down tooth enamel. There is no way to replace lost tooth enamel. Stomach acid can also damage your throat and mouth. To reduce the damage done by stomach acid, rinse your mouth with one teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one cup of water, 30 minutes prior to brushing teeth.
Pregnant women may also find their teeth loosening. That’s because many joints and tissues in the body loosen in preparation for childbirth. Be gentle with your teeth during your home care routine. Brush gently but thoroughly, and keep up with flossing. This will help reduce inflammation of the gums.
Menopause also brings about significant shifts in hormone levels. Menopause symptoms can include dry mouth and oral pain, as well as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is when mineral levels in the bones are depleted, resulting in deterioration and fractures. Women with osteoporosis are at increased risk for gum disease and tooth loss.
Oral Health Is Linked To A Spectrum Of Diseases
Oral health is a window to the state of your overall health. Some diseases can increase your risk of developing oral health problems. Anorexia nervosa starves the body of nutrients required for maintaining strong and healthy teeth. Bulimia nervosa can erode tooth enamel from purging stomach acid.
Diabetes is another disease that is deeply linked to oral health. Diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal disease and are more prone to dry mouth. Managing blood sugar and keeping a consistent oral health routine will help better protect oral health.
Women go through unique physiological changes throughout their lives, which have a direct impact on their oral health. Most of the oral health concerns women specifically face are due to shifts in their hormone levels. This can be challenging, but women can safeguard their oral health by seeing their dentist regularly and maintaining an at-home routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash.
Choosing the right dental partners is key to preserving oral health over a lifetime. Finding a dental clinic that understands when and how to take precautions surrounding women’s health matters is important throughout pivotal life stages. From puberty to pregnancy to menopause, having great oral health makes the ride a little bit easier.
Looking for a women’s oral health partner? Dawson Dental provides premier dental clinics in Toronto and throughout the GTA. Make an appointment to visit our top-rated clinicians by calling us at 1-855)-337-2999 or visit our contact page here.