Hormones affect a lot in a woman’s life, which you may have known. But you may not realize how much hormones can even impact a person’s dental health.
According to the American Dental Association, increased levels of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause more blood flow to the gums, which can make them more sensitive to irritation. During these hormone spikes, gums can become more easily inflamed or swollen from plaque and bacteria. In a worst-case scenario, leaving irritated gums untreated can eventually lead to gum disease. As a woman experiences a variety of hormonal changes throughout life, it’s essential to maintain proper dental care to alleviate gum inflammation and avoid any permanent damage.
Here are five moments when a woman’s changing hormone levels may cause dental complications, and some good practices to help combat them.
During puberty, increased levels of sex hormones cause increased blood circulation to the gums. Due to this, young women may experience increased gum sensitivity, which may lead to irritation or reactions. Luckily, regular oral care (brushing and flossing) helps remove any local bacterial growth and keep irritants at bay. As puberty progresses, women’s hormonal gum sensitivity will begin to diminish.
Periods are to blame for several annoying health symptoms, including cramps, acne, and mood swings. According to a study from the US National Library of Medicine, menstruation can also cause a variety of oral health problems, including swollen, tender, or bleeding gums (also known as menstrual gingivitis), or even canker sores. Women should maintain their regular dental routine, and any oral inflammation should pass after a few days.
It’s important to contact your dentist if these symptoms persist; they may be signaling a different problem.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body is working extra hard, and so are her hormones. It’s not unusual for women to experience pregnancy gingivitis, especially between her second and eighth months of pregnancy. While taking care of your body is especially important during this time, it’s essential to maintain good dental health, too. Some dentists even recommend more frequent cleanings during pregnancy to help control gingivitis and gum sensitivity.
Modern birth control pills do not contain enough estrogen and progesterone to cause gum inflammation, but it’s still important to keep your dentist up-to-date on your current medications. Some medications may cause your birth control to be less effective, which is important for dentists to know when writing a prescription. Also, according to the American Dental Association, women using oral contraceptives may face a higher risk of dry socket, a painful complication during tooth removal procedures. If you are concerned with how your medications may affect an upcoming procedure, talk to your dentist.
As another sizeable hormonal change in a woman’s life, menopause can also cause oral health complications. One such complication is dry mouth, which increases your risk for cavities. Maintain saliva production by sucking on sugar-free candy, drinking lots of water, or using an over-the-counter dry mouth spray. During menopause, some women also experience a loss of bone density, which can lead to eventual tooth loss. To combat tooth loss, make sure you’re intaking plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking.