Oral health – antenatal and postnatal
Hormones and Oral Health in Women — Common Problems and what to do about them
It is a well-known fact that during and after pregnancy we can often see a change with our oral health – this is to do with the fluctuating hormone levels. Scientists and dental clinicians say that, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, women often complain about their gums and teeth feeling different, and why the mouth seems similarly “off” during menstruation.
Women tend to have more dental problems whenever their bodies are going through hormonal changes, from the onset of puberty to menopause but don’t worry as all of this is treatable.
Why do hormones affect our teeth?
Female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, are critical to a woman’s oral health. The creation and circulation of female hormones causes more blood flow to the gums, making them tender and susceptible to the plaque and bacteria that accumulates around them. The gums can get inflamed and swollen, sometimes to the point of bleeding.
If you’ve ever noticed swollen or bleeding gums during your period, or ulcers, or swollen salivary glands? Hormones may be to blame.
Teeth and gums are especially vulnerable to problems during pregnancy. The reason again is hormonal: during pregnancy, women experience a significant boost in oestrogen. This surge in hormones is designed to help ligaments relax and to improve the formation of blood vessels, all of which allows a baby to grow and thrive in the womb. It’s good for the baby, of course, but not for the gums, which are at increased risk of periodontal disease as a result. The problem is compounded by the fact that during pregnancy we have a reduced flow of saliva, whose natural antimicrobial and antiviral properties would normally help to protect the teeth and gums.
Some women find they develop pregnancy gingivitis, especially between the second and eighth months of pregnancy— a mild form of gum disease that causes gums to be red, tender, and sore. Other women will find themselves getting cavities for the first time in their lives.
During menopause, the female body also goes through major hormonal changes. Some women experience the uncomfortable feeling of dry mouth as the amount of oestrogen and progesterone they produce decreases. Dry mouth happens when you don’t have enough saliva, and it can cause pain while eating, swallowing, or talking. Without enough saliva, the risk of cavities also increases.
What can be done?
First, maintain a thorough home-cleaning and hygiene regime: brush your teeth regularly and use floss, mouth wash and interdental brushes.
Second, visit your dentist. This has become more difficult during the period of the pandemic, but dentists are best placed to advise on, and alleviate, any oral issues caused by hormonal changes.
Third, chew sugar-free gum. Research by the Department of Dentistry at King’s College London in 2019 found that people who chew sugar-free gum develop 28% fewer cavities than those who do not. Sugar-free chewing gum alleviates inflamed gums and dry mouth by stimulating saliva production by up 10 to 12 times the normal amount. This saliva neutralises acid, soothes inflammation and rids the mouth of bacteria and plaque.
Posted by: Sarah Dixon | Posted on: July 13, 2021 | Posted in: HEALTH & WELLBEING