HORMONES AND YOUR DENTAL HEALTH – every women should read this!

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Most women know all too well that their hormones can affect their mood, breakouts and weight but are surprised to learn that hormones also impact their dental health.

 
Like it or not, we need our hormones and definitely can’t live without them. However hormone surges at particular times in a woman’s life make her more vulnerable to gum disease and dental health issues.

 

“Many women notice their gums are sore and tender but ignore it, hoping it will go away. Unfortunately they don’t realise that bleeding, tenderness and sensitivity are all early signs of gum disease and if not treated early may lead to lifelong dental problems,” says Dr Caitlin Oakley of Fresh Dentistry.

 

So how do hormones cause dental problems? In a nutshell, when estrogen and progesterone surge they cause more blood to flow to your gums. Puberty, cycle stages, pregnancy and menopause are all life stages where women will be more sensitive to plaque and bacteria which may lead to inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, ongoing gum inflammation will lead to bone loss around the teeth and eventual tooth loss. Not to mention pain, discomfort and expensive dental bills!

 

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It’s important not to ignore changes in your dental health. Dr Oakley recommends, “Find a caring dentist who you feel comfortable chatting with about your cycle or hormonal changes. It’s so important to manage the hormonal stages of your life and work with your dentist to protect the health of your teeth and gums.”

“The good news is that gum disease is preventable and reversible in its early stages, so six monthly check-ups, paying attention to any dental changes and keeping up a good oral hygiene routine at home are all ways to make sure your smile lasts your lifetime.” says Dr Oakley.   

 

 

 

 

Dr Caitlin Oakley of Fresh Dentistry

Puberty

 

During puberty, girls begin producing more hormones which often rage fiercely. This increases the chance of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. Symptoms include red, swollen, tender gums that may bleed when brushing as well as bad breath.

 

Convincing a teenager to take care of their dental health may be a challenge however if they understand that their actions now can set them on a course for a healthy mouth and pleasant smile in the years ahead you might just win the battle.

 

Luckily gingivitis responds well to professional cleaning by your dentist. This may be necessary twice or more per year during puberty because the gum tissue can be more reactive during this time. Balanced with a good at home oral hygiene routine such as brushing twice a day and flossing, this nasty condition can be overcome.

 
Your Period

 

Most women won’t notice any change in their mouth in the days before their period. However some women experience swollen gums, canker sores (mouth ulcers), bleeding after brushing and/or swollen salivary glands. Hormones may be to blame but if these symptoms don’t subside after your period stops then it is time to investigate.  Talk to your dentist if you have questions about how your monthly cycle and the health of your gums may be related.

 

If you find you have more sensitivity than usual before or during your period, a good tip is to schedule professional cleanings for about a week after your period ends.
 

Pregnancy

 

Being pregnant is such an exciting time with lots to think about and do. Your dental health requires extra attention at this time with your body in hormonal hyper drive. Pregnancy gingivitis — a mild form of gum disease is common with many women experiencing red, tender and sore gums as early as the second month of their pregnancy.

 

“During pregnancy it’s vital that women pay meticulous attention to their daily dental routine. Brushing at least twice a day and daily flossing along with more frequent professional cleaning at your dentist during this time is incredibly important to your dental health and the health of your unborn baby,” says Dr Oakley.

 

Some studies suggest that moderate to severe gum disease during pregnancy places women at a higher risk for delivering a pre-term or low-birth weight baby.

 

Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you become aware that you are pregnant. Let your dentist know how far along you are, if you have any medical conditions or have a high-risk pregnancy. Your dentist can help assess your oral health and map out a plan for the rest of your pregnancy.

 

If you’re planning to become pregnant, it’s a good idea to visit a dentist beforehand to take care of any dental issues that may be affected by your pregnancy.

 

Menopause

 

Menopause is aptly referred to as ‘the change of life’. The most notable change is the end of your monthly menstruation cycle, signifying that your ovaries have stopped producing oestrogen and progesterone. Hot flashes, insomnia and loss of bone density are other well-known and much talked about menopausal symptoms, however there are many others including several related to your dental health.

 

At menopause, when oestrogen production stops, women are at risk of two significant dental conditions; dental bone loss and dry mouth. Other less common symptoms include experiencing altered taste and burning sensations in the mouth.

 

“Bone loss isn’t limited to your vertebrae and limbs. Receding gums can be a sign of dental bone loss. When your gums recede, more of your tooth is exposed and this puts it at a greater risk for decay and tooth loss.

 

A reduction in saliva production may cause a dry mouth condition. Saliva cleans the teeth and rinses cavity-causing bacteria off your teeth. So when your mouth is dry, bacteria grow more rapidly and this makes you more susceptible to tooth decay. A good way to counteract a dry mouth is to chew sugar free gum, drink plenty of water and avoid salty, sticky and sugary temptations. There are also over-the-counter dry mouth sprays and mouth rinses to help reduce the dryness.

 

If you have both receding gums and dry mouth then your risk of tooth decay is dramatically increased so it is imperative to have your symptoms checked,” explains Dr Oakley.

 

As always, the solution to fighting the signs of menopause is to practice good dental hygiene:

  • Brushing twice each day and flossing at least once a day
  • Visiting your dentist every six month to detect problems before they progress
  • Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding sugary foods
  • Talking to your dentist about any oral concerns or dental symptoms that you are experiencing

 

Because the early stages of various dental conditions, including gum disease, are often painless, your six monthly dental check-ups are strongly recommended. Bad breath, having a bad taste in your mouth, discomfort or bleeding gums are all signs that should not be ignored. Early detection of dental problems is always less painful and less expensive.

 

Every woman knows she can’t control her hormones but by being aware of how they impact her dental health she can be smarter about how she looks after herself.

 

If you are looking for a caring and understanding dentist who understands the special needs of women and their dental health, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team at Fresh Dentistry. Give us a call at (03) 9878 8712 or send us an enquiry at [email protected]