February 9, 2017

Hormones and Dental Health

Hormones are nothing to scoff at! They have a major effect on your body, and dental health is no exception. They affect your weight, your mood and even mental states, so it’s no wonder that teeth and gums are affected as well.

These effects are usually manageable and not too serious, but it is good to know them in order to prevent any dental issues that could crop up. Men usually don’t suffer from such issues, as their hormonal levels do not fluctuate as much.
Hormonal surges during menstruation bring a host of potential problems, and along with the usual issues of hot flashes, irritability and pains, dental issues can also appear, as if to add insult to injury. It can be difficult to deal with all that at once, and the problems can be completely overwhelming.

During menstruation, you might experience a host of dental changes. It’s likely your gums will appear swollen and they might even bleed a little. Canker sores may appear as well, and your salivary glands may swell too. Swelling is the result of the production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones increase the blood flow around your mouth and to your gums. All this can lead to a mild case of gingivitis. Oral herpes is also known to appear at that time.
These issues are usually not serious and can be managed with proper oral hygiene. However, if they persist for more than a few days, it might be a sign that something else is causing these issues and that a visit to your dentist is in order. Consuming less sugar and carbohydrates during this period is also prudent.

Puberty is also a sensitive period when various dental problems may arise. This is compounded by the fact that the girls’ teeth are still growing and such hormone-caused problems may be dismissed altogether. They shouldn’t be, and you and your teenager should keep in mind the fact that hormones can and do cause swollen gums and bleeding. It doesn’t have to be serious, and usually isn’t. Good dental hygiene is a must, and the condition gradually goes away over time.

Due to progesterone that is usually present in birth control pills, women who take them often complain of swollen gums and gingivitis. It is usually aggravated by plaque, as the gums are more sensitive to the bacteria that are present there. Put simply, the hormones cause your body to react more violently to the bacteria and cause unnecessary inflammation. Some decrease in salivary flow has also been reported in some women, so take extra care if you are among them. Saliva provides a natural and a very effective way of maintaining your teeth.

The symptoms that appear when you’re pregnant are very similar to those you experience on birth control pills. Management of these issues is similar. Good dental hygiene is of utmost importance, and more regular visits to the dentist are in order, as pregnancy is a very sensitive period and a decrease in immune function is expected, which leads to increased prevalence of gingivitis and other dental issues.

And finally, a decrease in the level of hormones is also troublesome. Menopause is characterized by the decrease in the level of estrogen. It is thought that this is a major contributor to osteoporosis, which can also affect the jawbone. Such loss of bone density is a contributor to tooth loss and loose teeth. Inflammation also occurs as a result of estrogen deficiency. Dry mouth is also common in menopausal women. Generally, the incidence of periodontal disease is markedly higher in postmenopausal women than in the 15-49 age range. The sooner it is detected, the better the prognosis and the easier it is to treat.

If all this sounds too depressing, it shouldn’t be. All these issues can be managed easily and even prevented altogether with good dental hygiene. Brush your mouth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly, especially during your periods and when you experience the symptoms described above. A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is helpful too. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones and teeth. If you’re pregnant, you should be especially vigilant about your diet.
Ask your dentist for advice if you feel that the issues are too much for you to manage. There are various treatment options your dentist can prescribe, especially for menopausal women with dry mouth, even though in most cases dental cleaning and fillings are enough to get your dental health in shape.


Henderson Dentist Dr. George Harouni

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