Women deal with hormonal fluctuations from the time puberty hits, but hormones are responsible for far more than mood changes. Your dental health depends on your understanding of your hormones and how they impact the health of your teeth and gums.
Every woman experiences puberty, menstruation, and menopause. Many will also experience pregnancy and use birth control medications. Any or all of these elements can change your oral health.
The increase in sex hormones during puberty can also be the culprit behind swollen, red, tender gums that bleed easily – in other words, signs of gingivitis. Keeping twice yearly professional dental cleanings and maintaining a good brushing and flossing routine at home can help keep bacteria and oral health problems at bay. If your blossoming teen is experiencing super-sensitive teeth or gums, your holistic dentist may advise more than two cleanings a year.
Some women are so distracted by the mood swings, bloating, cramps, and other side effects of PMS and menstruation that their teeth and gums fly under the radar. However, there are women who may experience oral bleeding, swollen gums, cold sores, or swollen salivary glands before their period begins. Again, good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist and hygienist can help keep these problems in check.
Pregnancy is the mother of all hormonal changes, and the massive hormone shifts and circulation changes that are all part of pregnancy can alter how your mouth responds to plaque. A pregnant woman is at great risk for developing gingivitis – 60 to 75 percent of all moms-to-be have it. An expectant mother may also discover that there are small growths in her mouth, most often in areas where tartar and plaque build-up easily.
Gum changes are the most common irritation reported by pregnant women, but other oral health issues aren’t uncommon. The frequent need to snack, often at night when saliva production is decreased, can lead to a greater risk of developing cavities. Morning sickness leading to vomiting and acid reflux can spur on acid erosion which will eat away at tooth enamel. The sensitivity to certain tastes and smells – including toothpaste – can have a pregnant woman often skipping her oral hygiene routine. And while some pregnant women complain of a dry mouth (a breeding ground for bacteria and, thus, cavities), some have to deal with an overload of saliva.
Hormonal birth control in any form, obviously, impacts your hormones. A woman may experience inflammation similar to what is experienced in pregnancy. However, today’s hormonal birth control medications create less of an impact on oral health. If you do find that you’re experiencing unusual dental health upon using birth control, even if you’re following a good oral hygiene routine and getting professional cleanings, then talk to your holistic dentist about what the real culprit may be. You may ultimately need to use a non-hormonal birth control method, or there may be another health problem lurking in your system. Biocompatibility testing can be helpful in cases like this.
The reduction in hormones during menopause might seem like a blessing, but this major decline may lead to oral discomfort like dryness of the mouth, pain, and burning. Often the chewing of sugarless gum or upping your water intake can help, but any unusual sensations should be pointed out to your holistic dentist so she can determine if there are other non-hormone related causes.
Make an appointment with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence. As a holistic dentist, she is focused on treating the whole body, not just the mouth. Rather than just fixing what’s “broken,” she will first seek out the causes behind the oral health symptoms you’re exhibiting to determine what’s happening with your well-being.