We all know that men and women are built differently, and that affects what health problems each gender is more susceptible to. At our dental office in Austin, we also know that even though women are more open to visiting us regularly, they’re actually at more risk for dental problems throughout their lives than men. This May, in celebration of Mother’s Day and also National Women’s Health Week, we’d like to share how different stages of women’s lives can affect their oral health.
Several times throughout a woman’s life, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, her hormone levels change and her body changes with it. But what many people may not know is that these hormonal fluctuations can affect oral health and, in turn, overall health.
Puberty can begin as early as age 8 and typically occurs by age 14, although this can vary person to person. During this time, the body is going through many changes, including hormonal changes. These can certainly affect girls’ emotions and moods, but the changes in estrogen and progesterone can also cause an increased blood flow to the gums. Because of this boost of blood flow, girls going through puberty may experience red, swollen gums. They may even bleed when brushing their teeth. If this happens, it makes regular brushing and flossing even more important to keep bacteria from causing gum disease.
Throughout the next phase of a woman’s life, hormonal changes will continue to occur regularly and oral health will continue to be affected. During her menstrual cycle and a few days before her period, a woman may once again experience sore gums or even a canker sore. These should resolve themselves in a few days. The changes in hormones may also cause dry mouth, which increases the risk for cavities and bad breath.
During pregnancy, regular dental care is particularly important since many studies have linked poor dental health to premature births, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. About half of pregnant women will also get pregnancy gingivitis caused by, you guessed it, changes in hormones. Make sure to practice proper dental hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, and to visit your dentist in Austin during the second trimester.
During menopause, once again a substantial fluctuation in hormones occurs and estrogen decreases. This can lead to bone loss, osteoporosis, and weakening of the jaw bone. The jaw bone is responsible for holding teeth in place and if it’s lost or the density decreases too much, teeth may fall out. It’s recommended that if this happens, the teeth are replaced by either dentures or dental implants.
Brushing and flossing regularly can help protect all of our patients from cavities, gum disease, and countless other dental problems. But it’s also important to see a dentist at least every six months. If you’re in need of dental team that’s caring and comfortable, give our Austin dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to care for you.