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Women’s Teeth and Gums
A smile is the first impression that communicates a woman’s happiness and confidence; if you wish to keep your winning smile out in front, you will want to take special care of what’s behind it – your periodontal (gum) health.
Periodontal health is connected to a woman’s overall health. As your health care needs change throughout your life, during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, your oral care needs may change too.
Hormonal fluctuations during these times may affect your gum tissue and the underlying bone that support your teeth. These changes may increase your susceptibility to periodontal disease and require you to take special care of your oral health.
Gum Care During Puberty
When a young woman enters puberty, the production of sex hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen increase. Studies show that these elevated hormone levels may cause gum sensitivity and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. During this time, the gums can become swollen, turn red, and may feel tender.
Menstruation and Gingivitis
During menstruation, some women may experience gingivitis. This condition may cause gingival (gum) bleeding, redness or swelling of the gums, sores on the inside of the lip and cheek, a slight burning sensation or gum discomfort. It is important to maintain good oral health during these hormonal fluctuations. However, in some cases, periodontal treatment and antimicrobial agents may be recommended to ensure that your periodontal health is at its best.
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Pregnancy and Gum Disease
If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you need to know that your periodontal health can affect your pregnancy and ultimately the health of your baby. Studies have shown that any infection, including gum infection during pregnancy, may put you at a significant risk of delivering a preterm, low birth weight baby.
If you are already pregnant and have been diagnosed with periodontal disease by your general dentist, a simple non-surgical procedure called scaling and root planning performed by an experienced periodontist may significantly reduce your chances of complications.
Medications Including Oral Contraceptives
Birth control pills may make you susceptible to oral health conditions that affect pregnant women. Synthetic hormones in the oral contraceptives are designed to mimic pregnancy and may cause your gums to turn red, bleed, and swell.
In addition some commonly prescribed medications such as antidepressants and certain heart medications may cause dry mouth, increased plaque build-up and enlarged gum tissue. These conditions frequently result in bacterial infections under the gum line causing bleeding gums and bad breath. Make an appointment and speak with your periodontist if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Your Changing Body During Menopause
During menopause or post-menopause, you may notice a change in the way your mouth looks or feels. You may, for example, experience discomfort including pain, burning sensations in the gums tissue, mouth sores or apthous ulcers, and altered tastes. Saliva substitutes are available from your periodontist to help lessen the effects of a “dry” mouth that many women experience. Post-menopausal women may significantly reduce tooth loss by controlling their periodontal disease, especially if diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Diligent at-home oral hygiene, professional cleanings, and periodontal evaluations are an essential part of your overall health care. If you experience any symptoms described in this article, take control of your preventative dental health.
Make an appointment for a periodontal evaluation with an experienced periodontist today.
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