JavaScript must be enabled to use this site.

This Women's Health Month, Learn How Life Changes Affect Oral Health

Posted on May 4, 2016 in General oral health


DD_womanlookingdown_FThis Women's Health Month, Learn How Life Changes Affect Oral Health

Everyone needs to practice good oral health habits to guard against tooth decay, periodontal disease and other health concerns. However, due to the changing hormone levels that women experience from certain birth control, pregnancy or menopause, women have some oral health concerns that men don't share. May is Women's Health Month, which makes it the perfect time to learn more about the role female hormones play in oral health.

Use of birth control

Some forms of birth control pills can cause gum inflammation, especially during the first few months of use. This is especially true for pills with higher levels of progesterone. If you're considering starting the birth control pill, talk to your dentist along with your doctor about possible side effects to decide the best type for your oral and overall health. If you are using birth control and experiencing such inflammation, talk to your dentist about ways to address your concerns.

Pregnancy

The list of “dos and don'ts” for pregnant women is long – and sometimes contradictory. You may have heard that pregnant women should postpone any dental work until after the baby arrives, but waiting to treat certain conditions can cause damage. Still, experts suggest pregnant women defer elective dental care during the first eight weeks of pregnancy and during late pregnancy. The second trimester is the safest time for dental work that goes beyond a cleaning.

In order to check in on your oral health and determine if you have any conditions needing treatment, schedule a regular cleaning and exam with your dentist early in your pregnancy.

Some evidence shows that women with generalized moderate-to-severe periodontal disease may be at higher risk for delivering pre-term, low-birth weight babies. Because of increased hormones, it's also common for pregnant women to develop “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding. Professional cleanings will help keep conditions like this in check, which is why Delta Dental's Enhanced Benefits program covers additional cleanings for pregnant members (plan coverage is determined by group or individual plan selected).

Menopause

Pregnancy isn't the only time in a woman's life when changing hormone levels can have an effect on oral health. Women who are going through menopause also need to pay special attention to the health of their teeth and mouths.

Post-menopausal women often experience dry mouth due to a decrease in saliva, which can lead to oral health problems since saliva helps defend against periodontal disease and tooth decay. Dry mouth can also be made worse by certain medications, so it's always a good idea to speak to your dentist if you are experiencing symptoms.

The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can also increase women's risk of osteoporosis, which causes bone loss throughout the body. Bone loss in the jaw increases the risk of tooth loss. Following nutritious eating habits and talking to your doctor and dentist about proper treatment for osteoporosis can help prevent the oral health effects of this disease.

One thing remains constant throughout your life: good oral health habits like brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly are an important aspect of maintaining a healthy smile at all ages and in every stage of life. Women, please share this important information with your friends and family members so that you can all take important steps to improve your oral health this Women's Health Month.

Are you pregnant? Your oral health is key for you and your baby. Watch our video to help keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.