At Harmony Dental, Dr. da Costa strives to help all of his patients understand and improve their oral health. While brushing and flossing daily remains the most important way patients can tend to their oral health, some patients may need to pay their oral health even more attention due to predispositions for developing problems with their teeth and gums.
For women, our hormones can affect our oral health at various times of our lives. This makes us more susceptible to developing oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes a woman experiences. Not only can hormones affect the blood supply to gum tissue, but they can also affect how the body responds to toxins that result from plaque buildup. Because of these hormonal changes, women have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease at specific stages of their lives, in addition to other oral health problems.
Times When Women’s Hormones Can Affect Her Oral Health.
During a woman’s life, there are five situations that can cause her hormones to fluctuate, making her more susceptible to developing an oral health problem; during puberty, at times during her monthly menstrual cycle, when using birth control pills, during pregnancy, and at menopause. Let’s take a closer look at each of these events.
A surge in the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during puberty can increase the blood flow to a woman’s gums and alter the way her gum tissue reacts to the irritants within plaque. This increase in blood flow can cause gum tissue to become red, swollen, tender, and to have a tendency to bleed more frequently during brushing and flossing.
A change in hormones, especially the increase of progesterone, which can occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle could cause her to experience changes with her oral health that can include the development of canker sores, red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, or bleeding gums. A condition known as menstruation gingivitis, this can occur several days prior to the start of a period and will generally fade a few days after a period has started.
Birth control pills that contain progesterone raise the level of the hormone in women that take the pill. This increase in progesterone can cause gum inflammation due to the body’s increased reaction to plaque produced toxins. Make sure to tell Dr. da Costa if you take birth control so he can advise a way to deal with this issue.
Hormone levels change dramatically for women during pregnancy. The increased level of progesterone that can occur during this period can cause gum disease at any time between the second and eighth month of pregnancy, a condition commonly referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. Dr. da Costa may recommend you undergo additional cleanings to your teeth during the early part of your third trimester to reduce the risk of developing gingivitis.
Aging can present a variety of oral health complications due to medications taken and hormonal changes associated with menopause. These can include a change in your ability to taste foods, frequent burning sensation in the mouth, greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, and a decrease in the production of saliva, which can cause dry mouth.
A serious condition on its own, dry mouth can increase your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease because without saliva to moisten and cleanse the mouth, plaque acids have an easier time causing damage to the health of your teeth.
A decline in estrogen that occurs during menopause also places a woman at greater risk for the loss of bone density. A loss in bone density, especially in the jaw, can cause tooth loss and gum recession, which also increases your risk of tooth decay.
If you have any questions about how these conditions may affect your oral health, and what further steps you can take to protect your teeth and gums, feel free to ask Dr. da Costa during your next appointment.