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Women and Oral Health

15th September 2015

Dental Health Week 1st - 7th August 2016
#dentalhealthweek

Females are adaptable creatures, which is lucky as women must adjust to many changes across puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. What you may not know is that each of these unique phases bring their own challenges to maintaining good dental health.


Puberty 

While it’s hard not to notice the weird and wonderful changes that occur during puberty, have you thought about what happens to your mouth when the young female body starts producing all those extra hormones like oestrogen and progesterone? Blood levels in the gums rise, increasing sensitivity to plaque and irritation from food particles. This can leave young girls with swollen gums that bleed more easily. The good news is that this “puberty gingivitis” can be easily treated with brushing, flossing, and regular professional dental cleanings. If braces are in the mix, girls will need to give their brushing routine some extra TLC. This means taking out the removable parts such as elastics and bands, carefully cleaning around wires and pins, and brushing all areas of the teeth

Menstruation

Periods are a notoriously sensitive time, even for the gums! Some women may notice sore, bleeding gums within four days leading up to their period. Some women develop a temporary gingivitis characterised by tongue or cheek sores. Fortunately, this usually disappears once their period starts and hormones settle.

Many women know to avoid waxing whilst premenstrual, similarly the least sensitive time for a filling or tooth extraction is on the days right after a woman's period. Our gentle dentists will ensure you are comfortable any time of the month, but many women may be interested to know professional tooth cleaning will be most comfortable about a week after their period ends, when gum swelling resolves.

Pregnancy

Wide hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy may result in “pregnancy gingivitis” around the two-month mark which, although often temporary, shouldn’t be ignored. Oral contraceptives containing progesterone mimic pregnancy, so some women may find themselves with “pregnancy gingivitis” even when not expecting! It’s most pronounced in the first few months, but if it doesn’t settle, finding an alternative pill should be considered. Always tell your dentist when using contraceptives.

Pregnant women may also develop red lumpy lesions along the gum line officially called “pyogenic granulomas”. They're quite harmless and usually go away after birth.

Pregnancy food cravings may drive some women to the sweets. To avoid tooth decay, healthier options such as fresh fruit with plain yoghurt will do less damage.

Morning sickness can also erode teeth from acid in the vomit. Beware that tooth brushing within an hour of vomiting causes more damage by stripping away enamel. Instead of brushing straight away, try rinsing your mouth with ¼ teaspoon baking soda mixed into 1 cup of warm water, chew sugar-free gum, or eating an acid-neutralising food such as milk or hard cheese.

Menopause

As menopause begins, hormone levels markedly decline and can be accompanied by a range of mysterious oral effects. If food starts tasting odd, some women may develop a condition known as “burning mouth syndrome”. This syndrome often means the person is experiencing mouth dryness (or “xerostomia”). As a dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay, seeing a dentist during this time can help care for your teeth.

Also common in this life stage is “Menopausal gingivostomatitis”. It's hard to miss and is most commonly characterised by shiny gums that bleed easily.

Ensure you mention any strange symptoms to your dentist, as we are able to suggest medications that may offer some relief!


Regardless of your gender or age, at Cornerstone Dentistry we will always take the time to tailor treatment to your unique life stage. If you are interested in learning more about Women and Oral Health, or Dental Health Week, feel free to check out the following link: http://www.dentalhealthweek.com.au

~ Dr. Patrick Wong
Dentists of Hawthorn

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