There are five stages in a woman’s life when changes in hormones can affect oral health, and in some cases cause oral health problems. These stages are puberty, monthly menstrual cycle, use of oral contraceptives, during pregnancy, and at menopause. During any of these stages, some women experience dental health issues that don’t show up during other stages of their lives.
In this article, we will be looking at these different stages and how they can affect your dental health as a woman.
What is the link between hormones and women's dental health?
A lot of women experience a wide range of dental health complications brought about by unique hormonal changes. These hormonal changes affect the supply of blood to the gum tissue, and also distort the body’s response to the release of toxins caused by the accumulation of dental plaque. As a result of these hormonal changes, women are at more risk of developing periodontal diseases when they undergo any of the stages listed above, as well as become more susceptible to other dental health problems.
Hormonal changes that may affect dental health in women
Puberty: Puberty in women is characterised by a surge in the production of female hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, and this can lead to an increase in the supply of blood to the gums, changing the way the gum tissues reacts to plaque.
When this happens, the gum becomes red, swollen, and tender, and more likely to bleed during normal brushing. Some girls undergoing puberty may also discover that they are developing canker sores, although these usually heal on their own.
Monthly Menstruation Cycle: Not every woman experience oral changes during the regular monthly menstrual cycle, but if you do, hormones are to blame. According to Dr Cecilia Luong of Tiger Smile Family Dentistry, swollen and bleeding gums, canker sores, and swollen salivary glands are signs of dental/ oral complications caused by hormones related to the monthly menstrual cycle, and that these symptoms should disappear as your period stops.
If these symptoms persist at the end of your period, you should consider talking to a dental health expert, as it could be a sign of more dental health complications. Maintaining proper dental health routine will help prevent these symptoms from showing up at the start of, and during your monthly cycle.
Use of Oral Contraceptives: Oral contraceptives or birth control pills are also known to cause strange oral health issues. Some of these drugs contain progesterone which can cause inflamed gum tissues due to the body’s reaction to poisons produced by dental plaques.
When a woman uses oral contraceptives that contain progesterone, she begins to experience some of these strange oral health challenges as early as the first few months of starting the drugs. Newer contraceptives though carry less progesterone, and so has a lower risk of gum inflammation.
If you experience gum inflammation and other strange problems in your dental health and decide to go for treatment, don’t fail to tell your dentist that you are on birth control pills, because some of the drugs your dentist will prescribe may affect the efficacy of the bills. It is always a good idea to let your health expert know about any drugs or medications you are on.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy results in significant hormonal level changes, and this can cause increased susceptibility to certain oral health problems including gingivitis, where the gums get swollen and tender, particularly between the second to eighth month of pregnancy.
Your dentist will be able to recommend the proper treatment for you during this period, but maintaining proper dental hygiene during the early stages of pregnancy will go a long way in preventing or minimising the effects of hormonal changes in your oral health.
Menopause: As women get older, hormonal changes occur in their body. These changes are usually brought on by medications taken to combat ageing diseases and menopause. Some of these changes include an altered sense of taste, burning sensation in the mouth, and greater sensitivity to food of varying temperatures.
Dry mouth is also another sign of hormonal changes in women at the age of menopause, and this can lead to a wide range of dental health conditions including bad breath and periodontal disease.
You should talk to your dentist when you start experiencing conditions like those mentioned above.
As a woman, dental health is a very important part of your overall health plan because even the smallest problem with your mouth can lead to a wide range of health conditions that can affect your daily routine. It is vital that you maintain your regular dentist appointments, and keep to the proper dental health routine, whether you have health issues or not.