A Spotlight On Oral Health Issues Specific To Women

Find out more about dental health challenges specific to women, and how to ensure they don’t affect your smile health!

Mouth inspection by a dentistInternational Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March and Mother’s Day also features in this special month.

With that in mind, here at Abbey Road Dental we wanted to shine a spotlight on specific issues or challenges that may occur with oral health and women, specifically.

Let’s take a closer look at women’s dental health and what to be aware of:

Hormones, Women & Oral Health

Hormones have a huge impact on all kinds of aspects of your health. Your sex drive, your mood, your weight, your skin, your appetite – they rule everything in the body it seems. You might be surprised to know that hormones can also have a big impact on your dental health, or more specifically, your gums. This occurs because the estrogen and progesterone you produce as a woman can surge, which can cause more blood flow to the gums. This in turn can then make your gums really ‘angry’, irritated and sensitive.

Rather than the gums being irritated at a level we might expect for anybody with normal health, the irritation can be more extreme, even when the irritant itself seems fairly innocuous.

An example of this would be the presence of plaque around the gums. This will cause irritation in all people, especially if there is a lot of plaque building up. However, for ladies with a high level of hormones, even the smallest amount of plaque can cause a lot of irritation.

The result of this can be bleeding, inflamed gums that suggests the presence of gum disease. Without treatment, the gum disease can progress to full periodontitis (advanced gum disease) which can lead to tooth loss.

Let’s take a look at the different hormonal events a woman goes through, and how they may affect dental health:

Puberty

During puberty a young woman’s hormones are positively raging, which makes you prone to gingivitis during this time. Teenage girls may find they have swollen, bleeding gums. The gums may well be much bigger than usual, causing a lot of pain and discomfort. Canker sores may also appear throughout this time, causing even more pain and soreness. If your child is going through puberty and seems to be struggling with gum issues, the best thing to do is speak to the dentist about it during their next NW8 dental appointment in Abbey Road. We can discuss cleaning the teeth more efficiently, and perhaps arrange more hygienist support in addition to dental checkups.

The Menstrual Cycle

Hormones may well not make themselves present in your dental health in the lead up to your period. However, they may also choose to cause problems in some women. Issues could be the presence of canker sores, swollen gums, bleeding gums, swelling in the glands, or general oral sensitivity. If you have noticed these symptoms, it is worth checking with your dentist or hygienist to see if the issue is hormonal. This ensures you are checked for gum disease, and that your dental health is at the level it should be. Your dentist and hygienist can also help with recommendations around any sensitivity of the teeth and gums.

Contraception

Contraception that uses hormones can have an impact on your oral health. The likelihood is really low, but if you have started a new form of contraception and your oral health has changed, it might be worth checking if your contraception is to blame.

Pregnancy

If you are trying to start a family, it is important to let the dentist know. They may wish to bring forward certain procedures to get them done before you get pregnant. Usually certain medications, procedures and diagnostics are avoided when you are pregnant which is why it is important to let the dentist know you are trying to become pregnant.

When you become pregnant, it is important your Abbey Road dentist knows so that they don’t start procedures, treatments or diagnostics that aren’t suitable for pregnancy. They will also support you through pregnancy gingivitis, which happens to many women when they carry a child. It’s the least developed form of gum disease but it still needs monitoring and support to stop it progressing. Often, that will include our NW8 hygienist helping you to stay meticulous with your oral hygiene regime. This may include more regular cleanings at Abbey Road Dental, just to stay on top of things.

Menopause

During the menopause you will go through a huge variety of changes throughout your body, all related to the hormonal shift. With your oral health, you may experience your tastes changing and you may get burning sensations in your tongue and oral tissues. You may even have a much more sensitive mouth overall. One of the most problematic issues during this time is dry mouth. You need saliva to wash away debris in your mouth and keep nasty bacteria levels down. The more of a dry mouth you have, the more at risk of cavities you are. Our hygienists can recommend a wide range of solutions to help you cope with menopausal dry mouth and we may also recommend higher strength fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.

Bone loss is another problem during the menopause and this can happen because your oestrogen levels are dipping. Your bone density changes, which can then show up in your jaw and teeth. You might even see your gums receding, or your face shape changing. Whilst we can’t stop this natural progression, we can work with you to check your vitamin levels and intake are correct. We can also discuss cutting down/quitting of certain lifestyle habits that can contribute to this issue.

During this time you may also be more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, which can make you more likely to suffer from tooth loss. If you are diagnosed with this, it is important to let your dentist know. Please also let us know if you are taking HRT for the menopause as this can have an affect on your oral health, including an increased risk of gum disease or worsening of existing gum disease.

Please Speak To Abbey Road Dental For Advice

If you are going through any particular challenges with your health as a female, and it is or could be affecting your oral health, please speak to us for advice. Chat to us during your next appointment, or give us a call to discuss whether or not an earlier appointment related to your oral health needs is a good idea. You can reach our friendly team on 02076241603 for more information, or please use our online booking form if that is more convenient for you.

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