Beyond Mood Swings: How Hormones Affect Women’s Oral Health
Women face unique issues when it comes to oral health. Due to the distinctive hormonal changes that women experience, they tend to be more sensitive and susceptible to dental problems.
At certain points in a woman’s life, hormonal changes may cause exaggerated reactions to toxins produced from plaque build-up. This affects the blood supply to the gums, which may result in significant changes to the gingiva. For this reason, women are more prone to periodontal diseases.
Physical Effects of Hormonal Changes
The effects of hormones in women are varied and certainly go beyond mood swings. When the oestrogen and testosterone levels in women destabilise, it can wreak both emotional and physical havoc. These changes also affect the success of certain treatments, such as dental implants and surgical dental procedures.
The side effects of hormonal changes include menstrual gingivitis, periodontal disease, and to some extent, temporomandibular joint disorders. These oral side effects are due to the body’s exaggerated response to toxins which oral plaque produces.
Effects to Gum Tissues
During a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, her progesterone levels increase and often cause oral changes. The symptoms are similar to those of gingivitis; the big difference is that the symptoms shortly disappear when the period begins. The symptoms include inflamed or bleeding gums, development of canker sores or swollen salivary glands.
Oral contraceptives also heighten the inflammatory response to dental plaque, which may result in profound changes to the gums. The effects may vary across brands and dosages due to the varying amounts of progesterone in the formulation.
While menstrual gingivitis naturally clears up, the regular occurrence of inflamed gums put women at high risk of periodontal diseases. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which is a chronic gum disease.
Such is the case during pregnancy or menopause when the erratic hormonal changes fail to neutralise the acids produced by bacterial plaque. The decline in oestrogen and the decreased flow of saliva put menopausal and pregnant women at greater risk of periodontitis, as well as TMJ disorder, and eventually, bone and tooth loss.
Women face unique oral issues, regardless of external and risk factors. It is important to understand the role of hormones in a woman’s health so that dentists can create the most suitable treatment plan.