Hormones play a major role in impacting the mood and also have a deep connection with oral health. Hormonal instabilities related with the menstrual cycle, puberty, pregnancy, menopause and even use of birth control pills can lead to fluctuations in smooth oral health.
Since taking complete charge of our hormones is beyond our limits, we can definitely be mindful of the various alterations in our mouth and accordingly work with a dental expert to ensure that gums and teeth are in the best of health.
There are special health requirements at every stage of a woman’s life such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause. It is important to maintain good dental hygiene during these phases especially when hormonal changes take place in their body.
• Puberty: During this phase, hormones like estrogen and progesterone are at an all-time high causing blood vessels to dilate which can disturb gums and cause bleeding, swelling and redness. It also increases chances of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.
Also, during puberty, girls generally tend to opt for processed foods, soda, sugary foods which translate to hormonal imbalances triggering a decline in oral health.
Professional cleaning with the help of dental experts and good oral hygiene at home including brushing twice a day and flossing helps. In some cases, professional cleaning may be needed more than twice a year.
• Menstruation: During the phase of menstruation, few women complain of dental trouble such as bright red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, and development of canker sores or bleeding gums in the days before their period.
This takes place due to the changes in hormone levels, mainly progesterone during the menstrual cycle. Birth control pills comprise of progesterone, which can be another reason for imbalanced hormonal functioning. Women may experience inflamed gum tissues due to the body’s exaggerated reaction to the increase in the hormone production.
It is highly recommended that women should see their dental experts for prescription and medications to help prevent these problems.
• Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the mother’s hormone levels are on a constant roller coaster, mostly riding high. Some women discover they have developed pregnancy gingivitis — a mild form of gum disease that causes gums to be painful red, sensitive, and sore. Usually the issue occurs between the second and eighth months of pregnancy, and one can help keep it under control through day-to-day habits like efficient brushing, flossing and being meticulous about taking care of your body. In fact, during your second trimester and early third trimester, your dentist may suggest more frequent cleaning sessions to help control gingivitis.
• Lactation: Hormonal changes may affect a woman’s oral health post pregnancy too. The increase in stress and tiredness post pregnancy can also cause a range of ailments like cavities and gum disease including Bruxism to develop, thereby negatively impacting a woman’s oral health.
• Menopause: A woman may experience changes in the mouth such as taste, burning sensation and amplified sensitivity during the phase of menopause. Dry mouth and loss of bone also acts as a major catalyst for the formation of bacteria that could lead to further complications such as gum disease etc.
It is recommended to keep ice chips or sugar-free candies handy and use a dry mouth spray, fluoride toothpaste and drink sufficient water or other caffeine-free drinks. The reduced yield of estrogen that arises with menopause also puts you at a risk for damage to bone density. Signals of bone loss in your jaw can be something as simple as disappearing gums. When your gums retreat, more of your tooth gets visible, putting more of it at risk for deterioration.
To avoid this situation make sure you are getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D.
Biologically, women are more complex than men and hence it is vital for a woman to care for her health while engaging in beneficial practices that would help reform her dental maladies.
(The author is an aesthetic dentist, Dentzz Dental Care)