Women do need to take extra care of their dental health at certain times throughout their lifetime. The reason for this is due to the unique hormonal changes that occur. These changes can affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also affect the way the body responds to toxins produced by plaque bacteria. This can mean women become more susceptible towards developing gum disease or periodontal disease at certain times during their lifetime, and may also become more susceptible towards other oral health problems. We obviously like to see all our patients regularly at our surgery in Leeds, but we do urge women to pay particular attention to their oral health during these times, and to make sure they don’t miss any appointments for check-ups and professional cleanings. The times when susceptibility can increase include:
Puberty. This is due to an increase in the production of the female hormones of progesterone and oestrogen that occurs at this time. These hormones can increase the blood flow to the gums, and may change the way the gum tissue reacts to plaque bacteria. This can result in the gum tissue becoming tender, swollen and inflamed, meaning it’s more likely to bleed when brushing and flossing.
During menstruation. At this time of the month the hormone progesterone increases, and this can affect the oral cavity. Common symptoms include experiencing swollen salivary glands, or developing mouth ulcers, and a condition called menstruation gingivitis can occur a day or two before menstruation begins, resulting in bright red, swollen gums that bleed when brushed and flossed. This condition will clear up within a day or two.
Using birth control pills can increase progesterone levels which in turn can lead to inflammation in the gum tissues due to the body’s increased reaction to the toxins produced by plaque bacteria.
Pregnancy causes considerable changes in hormone levels, in particular in the level of progesterone. This means pregnant women are more prone towards developing gum disease between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis. If we think you are susceptible towards developing this condition then we may recommend that you see David Brown or another of our dentists more frequently for check-ups, and that you schedule more frequent professional cleanings to help reduce the chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
The menopause is also a time when hormonal changes take place. In addition women may need to take extra medications at this time in their life to help combat other diseases, and these may cause changes to the oral cavity. Common problems at this time can include a burning sensation in the mouth called burning mouth syndrome, increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods, and a decrease in saliva that can result in dry mouth.
Dry mouth can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay as saliva is very important in helping to keep the mouth clean and moist, and it also helps to neutralise the acids produced by plaque bacteria. If you suffer from dry mouth, then it’s something we can definitely help you with here in our Leeds surgery.
Another problem that can occur during the menopause is a loss of bone density due to the fall in oestrogen levels. This decline in bone density can affect the jawbone and could eventually lead to tooth loss. One sign that this might be occurring is noticing that the gums are receding, something that also puts teeth at increased risk of tooth decay.
All these problems have the potential to be serious, but with proper dental care most can hopefully be avoided. Our dentist at Leeds City Dentalcare is able to offer advice on how to look after your teeth and gums more effectively, and regular check-ups and cleanings should ensure any potential problems are picked up quickly before they can become serious.