From San Clemente Dentist Dr. Eric Johnson
Women and Oral Health: Helpful Dental Care Tips for Women
Women are different from men in a lot of ways, most of which are based on their hormonal levels among other things, that includes their dental health. Gingivitis might be the last thing on your mind when you hear the word 'estrogen', but the two are surprisingly related. In fact, there are five predictable times some one-offs, some repeating regularly that a woman needs to pay extra attention to her dental care.
Estrogen and progesterone surge during puberty, and in addition to all of the other changes that happen, they cause blood flow to the gums to increase. This makes the gums more sensitive to irritants like plaque and tartar and more likely to bleed when barely nicked. Normal brushing and flossing can cause bleeding. Switching to a softer toothbrush may be recommended if you start bleeding regularly from regular brushing.
A day or two before their periods, some women estimates are between 15% and 25% experience something called 'menstruation gingivitis'. The gums become bright red, the salivary glands can swell up, and they might develop canker sores or bleeding gums. These are usually not dangerous, but if they don't clear up by the third day of your period, they may cause problems contact your dentist if they're still present after your period is gone.
Some birth control pills operate using progesterone, which increases the gums' sensitivity to plaque. Plaque produces a very low-level toxin that progesterone reacts badly to. If your gums become inflamed easily, especially if you miss a brushing or a meal, tell your dentist.
Predictably, pregnancy causes progesterone levels to rise, causing the same problems as birth control pills, but even more strongly in some women. A gum disease known as 'pregnancy gingivitis' can also arise during the 2nd-8th month, and it may be wise to have your teeth professionally cleaned to reduce the effects of the plaque and gingivitis.
There are a lot of factors that can cause changes to your oral health at menopause. Among them; simple advancing age, medications added to ward off diseases, and hormone changes either natural or HRT-related. The most common change is dry mouth, which can in turn trigger tooth decay and gum disease (because saliva neutralizes acids that plaque produces.) Bone density loss in the jaw can also make it much easier to lose teeth.
There's a lot more to oral health than just regular brushing and flossing, especially if you're of the female persuasion. Don't let your body catch you off guard if you know when you need to pay extra attention, you can keep your oral health in top shape.