Women & Periodontal Health
Periodontal Health Issues in Women
Women of all ages must be aware of how their hormonal changes and life stages may affect their periodontal health. From puberty through post-menopause, women experience a variety of issues that may necessitate treatment by a periodontist, due to changes in progesterone and estrogen levels as well as issues caused by gum inflammation.
- Puberty - the increased level of sex hormones increases blood circulation to the gums, which can cause increased gum sensitivity. This in turn may augment the body's reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. Watch for gums that are swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
- Menstrual cycles - some women experience menstruation gingivitis. Symptoms include bleeding gums, bright red and swollen gums, and sores on the inside of the cheek. Menstruation gingivitis typically occurs right before a woman's period and clears up once her period has started.
- Pregnancy - pregnant women are always advised to take extra-good care of themselves and that includes their oral health. It is still unclear exactly how periodontal disease may affect birth outcomes (some research points to babies born too early and too small); just remember that periodontal disease is an inflammation and any infection is cause for concern for the baby's health. The bottom line is that when they cross the placenta, bacteria create toxicity in the womb which can cause early delivery. If you are considering becoming pregnant, we recommend you schedule a proactive periodontal evaluation.
- Menopause, post-menopause - along with other bodily changes from estrogen loss come oral changes such as dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in the gum tissue, or a change in the sense of taste. A relatively rare condition called menopausal gingivostomatitis, in which gums look dry or shiny, bleed easily, and have coloration ranging from abnormally pale to deep red, affects some women. Estrogen supplements can help relieve symptoms.
Gum disease in women and serious health conditions
Various studies have linked gum disease to breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis in women. The common thread between these is that periodontal bacteria that enters the body can affect women in other, very serious ways, since the bacteria then have access to the whole body. Therefore, proactive periodontal checkups and timely treatment of gum disease are advised to avoid periodontal bacteria from infiltrating below the gum line, reduce prolonged exposure to toxins and inflammation, and to maintain optimal health.
Periodontal Care for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women undergo vast hormonal changes which can affect oral health. Fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen levels cause pregnant women to be susceptible to periodontal disease. There are studies that link periodontal disease to higher risk of pre-term or low-birth-weight infants due to inflammation and bacterial infection.
If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, you should consider a periodontal exam to check the health of your teeth and gums. During this exam, the periodontist will look for signs of gingivitis or bone loss. Bone loss creates pockets below the gum line where bacteria can thrive and cause gum disease, leading to systemic inflammation that exposes your whole body to toxins.
The hormonal changes happening during pregnancy, as with puberty and menopause, can cause exaggerated response to the irritants in our immune system from bacterial plaque. Protect your health and that of your unborn baby. Contact Dr. Even-Hen for an appointment!