Woman and Oral Health
Protecting Oral Health Throughout Your Life
As a woman, you know that your health needs are unique. You also know that at specific times in your life, you need to take extra care of yourself. Times when you mature and change, for example, puberty or menopause, and times when you have special health needs, such as menstruation or pregnancy.
Did you know that your oral health needs are also changing during these different phases of your life?
While women tend to take better care of their oral health than men do, women's oral health is not markedly better than men's. This is because hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman's life can affect many tissues, including gum tissue. Because periodontal disease is often a "silent" disease, many women do not realize they have it until it reaches an advanced state. However, at each stage of your life, you can take steps to protect your oral health.
Careful periodontal monitoring and excellent oral hygiene is especially important for women who notice changes in their mouth during times of hormonal fluctuation. To help ensure good oral and overall health, please schedule your Periodontal Therapy with our hygienist at least twice a year so we may monitor your gums.
During puberty, an increased level of sex hormones, such as progesterone and possibly estrogen, causes increased blood circulation to the gums. This may cause an increase in the gum's sensitivity and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel tender.
As a young woman progresses through puberty, the tendency for her gums to swell in response to irritants will lessen. However, during puberty, it is important to follow a good at-home oral hygiene regimen, including regular brushing and flossing, and regular dental care. In some cases, we may recommend periodontal therapy to help prevent damage to the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth.
Occasionally, some women experience gingivitis. Women with this condition may experience bleeding gums, bright red and swollen gums and sores on the inside of the cheek. Gingivitis typically occurs right before a woman's period and clears up once her period has started. Dr. Romano suggests that you schedule your Periodontal Therapy 2 wks prior to your period so you may experience less gingival inflmmation.
All infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby. The Academy of Periodontology recommends that women considering pregnancy have a full periodontal evaluation.
What if I'm Diagnosed with Periodontal Disease During Pregnancy?
If you're diagnosed with periodontal disease during pregnancy, Dr. Romano might recommend an initial common non-surgical procedure called scaling and root planning in conjunction with your routine Periodontal Therapy. During these procedures, your tooth-root surfaces are cleaned to remove plaque and tartar from deep periodontal pockets and smooth the root to remove bacterial toxins. Research suggests that scaling and root planning may reduce the risk of pre-term births in pregnant women with periodontal disease. The added bonus is that the procedure should alleviate many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with pregnancy gingivitis, such as swelling and tenderness of your gums.
This baby step benefits you and your unborn baby.
Menopause and Post-Menopause
Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may experience changes in their mouths. They may notice discomfort in the mouth, including dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in the gum tissue and altered taste, especially salty, peppery or sour.
In addition, menopausal gingivostomatitis affects a small percentage of women. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red mark this condition. Most women find that estrogen supplements help to relieve these symptoms.
Please advised Dr. Romano if you experience any of the following problems:
- Bleeding gums during brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite