Women undergo several hormonal changes throughout their lives, causing hormone levels to fluctuate. This fluctuation can not only cause changes in the body, but in the mouth as well. At my Chapel Hill dental office, we want to cater to our female patients, and this blog can explain how their hormonal changes affect their oral health.
Because of the unique hormonal changes women experience, chances for oral health problems actually increase. When hormone levels adjust, the blood supply to the gum tissue is affected, as well as the body’s response to toxins caused by plaque. This makes women more susceptible to gum disease and other oral health problems during certain stages in their lives when the hormonal changes are particularly extreme.
The first major change in female hormones occurs during puberty. When a woman enters puberty, the female hormones of estrogen and progesterone surge. This increase in hormone levels not only cause changes to the body, it can also change how your mouth reacts to bacteria. During puberty, blood flow to the gums actually increases, causing changes to the gum tissue and its behavior. The increase in blood flow can cause the gums to become red, tender, and swollen, and can affect how well your mouth can fight off bacteria in plaque.
Following puberty, females begin to experience monthly menstrual cycles. During these monthly cycles, the progesterone and estrogen levels again increase. This increase can cause a multitude of side effects, some of them including bright red gums, bleeding gums, swollen gums or salivary glands, and canker sores. It’s even common for women to experience menstruation gingivitis a day or two before the start of their cycle, which usually clears up in a few days.
Some women may choose to start a birth control regime during this phase of her life. This can also put you at risk for damage to the gum tissue. Certain birth control medications that contain progesterone can cause your body to overreact to the bacteria and toxins caused by plaque, often resulting in swollen gums.
It’s also not uncommon during these years for women to choose to start a family. During pregnancy, hormonal levels change dramatically. An rise in progesterone can increase your chance for gum disease. Gum disease brought on by hormonal changes experienced in pregnancy is known as pregnancy gingivitis and is usually found between months two and eight of the pregnancy. Because of this, your Chapel Hill dentist may recommend more frequent visits for cleanings and exams.
As women age, hormonal changes are again at a peak, causing a variety of oral complications. From altered taste and increased sensitivity, to dry mouth and decreased bone density, menopause can result in some serious concerns. Dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease since saliva isn’t there to help clean the mouth. Loss of bone can lead to tooth loss, decay, and receding gums.
While it’s important for all of our patients to maintain regular checkups at my dental office in Chapel Hill, it’s even more important for our female patients. If you’re going through a crucial period in your life, or are looking for a new dentist, please give us a call today. We’ll make sure your mouth is in healthy shape and work with you through all stages of your life.
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