Women can attribute bloating, irritability, moodiness, and the occasional hot flash or emotional outburst to hormones. But, according to an article in the May 2009 issue of AGD Impact, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) monthly newsmagazine, the state of one's oral health is hormone-dependant as well.
Hormonal changes occur throughout a woman's life, and related to these hormonal changes are changes in oral health. Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause all can have an effect on a woman's oral health.
During puberty, fluctuations in hormones can make gums more susceptible to gingivitis. As a result, the gums may appear red and swollen, and they can bleed. During menstruation, women who have a tendency to develop canker sores and cold sores may develop a pattern in which these sores recur during every menstrual cycle.
During pregnancy, gingivitis may develop. In fact, gingivitis is the most common oral condition associated with being pregnant. Also during pregnancy, the chemical composition of saliva changes, thus reducing saliva's antimicrobial capacity. Sometimes, however, women will avoid dental checkups for fear that treatment might harm the developing baby. In fact, untreated decayed teeth can put a mother and her baby at risk for infection.
Some women also experience dry mouth while pregnant. "Since too little saliva can make you prone to cavity formation, it's important to alert your dentist to this symptom," says AGD spokesperson Gigi Meinecke, DDS, FAGD. "Frequent sips of water and using toothpaste which does not contain sodium laurel sulfate, a drying agent, can help. It's important to avoid mouth rinses containing alcohol as they can be very drying as well," she adds.
Menopause can be accompanied by a number of oral conditions. "Symptoms can include dry mouth, altered taste perception, pain, and burning sensations, says Dr. Meinecke. "Patients with these symptoms should see their dentist to rule out any other cause for their condition as well as receive recommendations for treatment," she adds.
Together, a patient and his or her dentist can create a treatment and prevention plan that specifically meets their needs. For more information about women's oral health, visit www.knowyourteeth.com.
Types of eating disorders:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge eating disorder
- Food addiction
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Manhattan Beach, CA 90266