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Women's Health Week 2018 - dental tips for the girls

Hey Girls!! This month it’s all about you!

With September being host to Women's Health Week we're encouraging all our female friends to make their health #1. 

When we think about health we tend to look at symptoms in isolation. You may be surprised to learn that your overall health has a stronger link to your dental health than you realise. 

Additionally, for females your needs can differ significantly from that of the males in your world—and it continues to change depending on the stage of life you’re at. 

It’s important for women to know what they may need to look for in terms of keeping their teeth and gums at their best. Read on for tips to keep smiling at any age.

Hormonal changes

On the physiological side of things, the two major female hormones, progesterone and oestrogen, can strongly influence oral health [1]. During life events like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, it’s important to track how your dental health is faring.   

A number of conditions including Puberty Gingivitis, Pregnancy Gingivitis, Menopausal Gingivostomatitis and Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) can all be caused by fluctuations in hormones. Prior to their period many women find that their gums are sensitive or can bleed and they may experience canker or cold sores.

A pregnant pause

Seeing a pregnant woman at the dentist is rare—ever noticed? This may be due to their concerns about x-rays or other medical interventions during pregnancy. However, if you’re pregnant we urge you to keep up with your regular dental visits. 

Pregnancy can actually be a time that puts your oral health at risk and vice versa. In part, this is to do with hormonal changes but also because morning sickness may force stomach acids to come into contact with your tooth enamel—a damaging combo.

Babies born too early or too small have also been linked to women with gum disease symptoms [2]. Preterm labour is itself a risk and can have serious complications for baby including chronic lung problems, developmental problems and impairments in vision and hearing. It’s suggested that gum disease creates an imbalance in proteins creating a systemic inflammation which can trigger early labour. 

Remember that your baby’s teeth are also developing in utero so it’s essential that pregnant mums are receiving the correct amounts of key nutrients. 

While we understand mother-to-be’s can be overwhelmed with messages of what to do and what to avoid, addressing dental problems early is so important at this time. 

Rest assured that our team are well-trained to take additional precautions to protect bub throughout your visit. For this reason, it’s important to pre-inform us if you are pregnant or intending to be. If you’re unsure about anything we encourage you to ask how we’re taking steps to protect baby.  

Medication

Women are likely to take two types of medication more so than men—contraceptives and antidepressants. Each can affect your dental health. 

While the formulas for contraceptive pills are much better these days, they can still be the cause of problems in your mouth [3]. If you’re experiencing issues like inflamed gums for no apparent reason it could be that your contraceptive is the instigator. 

Burning Mouth and Dry Mouth Syndrome are both side-effects of the ingestion of antidepressants [4]

In either case, it’s important to inform your dentist of any medication you’re taking at the start of your visit, and definitely before any procedure.  

Menopause and heart health

Studies continue to link oral health and heart disease. In fact we've written a whole article that you can read here.

TL;DR Bacteria from oral conditions can enter the blood stream and damage areas of the heart. 

Menopausal women who have signs of developing heart disease should pay attention to their oral health and take immediate action if symptoms like swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums show up.   

Osteoporosis and it's effects on oral health

Osteoporosis can affect your dental health as you age [5]. Osteoporosis can be responsible for the degeneration of the jaw bone, and if combined with gum disease it can lead to serious tooth loss. So as you get older it’s important to take preventative measures, and be tested and treated appropriately to save that smile. 

Diabetes and its concerning health outcomes

People with diabetes (including men and children) understand the linked complications which can harm their eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart, but they often overlook the damage it can cause in their mouths. 

Diabetes and periodontal diseases (gum disease) along with other oral problems [6] tend to go hand-in-hand. In turn, any such infections can make it harder to keep your blood sugar under control. 

The good news is that persons with well controlled diabetes have no more periodontal disease than those without diabetes. So aim to keep on top of your diabetes and schedule in regular dental visits so that your gum health status can be tracked.

Prevention of dental problems is always better than cure!

As kids, both girls and boys are told the same things over and over regarding their dental health—brush and floss twice a day and don’t eat too much sugar! Of course we’re still recommending that, though there are other conditions specific to women that may only be picked up early by your dentist or hygienist at Cole. 

Always remember that our team is here to help keep you smiling (and chewing, and living well) — so make us part of your preventative routine!

Inspired to get a check up? Contact us now.

References:

Hormonal factors in periodontal disease

Periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes

Oral contraceptives alter oral health

Antidepressant Drug Effect on Periodontal Status

Oral health and bone disease

Diabetes and oral health

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