It’s no secret than men’s and women’s bodies are different. Each sex faces its own unique health challenges and needs, even where oral health is concerned.
Dr. Janice Spada, a Sudbury, MA Dentist, understands the importance of oral hygiene and checkups for her female patients. She discusses the most common gender-specific oral health threats faced by women.
Hormone-Related Gum Concerns
Throughout the menstrual cycle, hormone levels vary greatly, causing your body to react differently to bacteria and plaque in your mouth.
Progesterone and estrogen levels fluctuate, making your gums more sensitive. Women of childbearing age may experience a condition called menstruation gingivitis, which causes the gums to appear red, inflamed, and painful to the touch.
In the week before the menstrual cycle, these woman may notice bleeding gums while brushing and flossing. The condition does not usually have an adverse impact in the long run, and symptoms subside after a few days.
During pregnancy, some women have gingivitis, too, but it is usually more severe than menstruation gingivitis. Although uncommon, women can also develop benign oral tumors.
If you take oral contraceptives, you have a greater risk of experiencing sensitive gums and periodontal disease. This applies also to birth control pills with lower doses of hormones.
During menopause, many women in their 40s and 50s turn to prescription hormone replacements, such as Estrace and Premarin. These medications, along with the effects of menopause, often cause dry mouth. Saliva is your body’s natural defense against tooth decay, so your teeth and gums are particularly vulnerable during this time.
Women Cannot Afford to Overlook Their Oral Health
Dr. Spada cautions that not all oral health risks relate to hormones. As a woman, you face other risks:
- The number of women diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMDs, is twice as great than the number of men who have require treatment for jaw problems. In many cases, this is attributable to stress-related behaviors, such as clenching one’s jaw or grinding teeth.
- The CDC reports increases in the number of women who have HPV. Researchers are currently conducting studies to determine whether this a link between oral cancer and the human papillomavirus. Even though men are three times more likely to have oral HPV, oral cancer screenings are important for both sexes.
- Osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones become brittle and prone to fractures, affects millions of women. You may experience bone loss in your jaw, which makes you more vulnerable to periodontal disease.