The Role of Women’s Dental Health at Every Life Stage
We often talk about the importance of dental health to overall health. That’s true for everyone. But we also hear questions from our patients about special considerations for dental care and dental health during pregnancy. It’s a fair question. The truth is that hormones like estrogen and progesterone can affect oral health and other aspects of women’s well-being during pregnancy and beyond.
According to womenshealth.gov, “Women have unique oral health concerns. Changing hormone levels during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can raise your risk of problems in your mouth, teeth, or gums.”
The good news is that all of the things you do on a regular basis to maintain and/or improve your dental health are perfectly safe and recommended throughout pregnancy. As long as you have good oral care practices before pregnancy, you should be a pro at maintaining dental health during pregnancy.
But despite your good efforts, changing hormones can raise the risk of some dental health issues, so it’s especially important to be vigilant during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “60–75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease.”
Cavities can be more likely during pregnancy, and there are links between untreated cavities in mothers and early childhood cavities in children. Heartburn and vomiting due to morning sickness or nausea related to the use of flavored toothpaste during pregnancy can all lead to increased enamel erosion. Teeth can also become loose during pregnancy.
We know, it’s a lot. In addition to your regularly scheduled semi-annual appointments, the best thing to do is keep a close eye on your dental health during pregnancy and call us at the first sign of trouble.
At Other Life Stages
Women make up 50 percent of the population, and all women go through hormonal changes throughout their lives. That’s why in addition to pregnancy, we think it’s important to talk about the hormonal changes women experience during other important life stages, particularly when they are going through menopause.
Women’s Dental Health Consideration During and After Menopause
Menopause can feel like the biggest mystery of all with a long list of related health concerns and not much public discourse on the topic. When it comes to dental health and menopause, women at this stage may be at a higher risk for osteoporosis (loss of bone) in the jaw as well as periodontitis.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Numerous oral changes can occur as a consequence of advanced age, the medicines taken to combat diseases, and hormonal changes due to menopause. These oral changes can include altered taste, a burning sensation in the mouth, greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages, and decreased salivary flow that can result in dry mouth.”
Good Dental Health Practices for Overall Women’s Health
We share all of this not to cause fear or anxiety in our women patients, but to help you know what to expect and to encourage you to stay aware and active in the pursuit of good dental health. Keeping up with a good dental care routine, semi-annual cleanings, and your connection with us as your dental health providers will help make sure you stay healthy and smiling at every life stage, no matter what your hormones throw at you!
To schedule your next visit, complete our contact form or call our office at 815-886-0875.