Did you know that women typically take better care of their oral health than men? Even though women, on average, floss and brush their teeth more thoroughly than men, women have a higher rate of gum (periodontal) disease. You have probably noticed how often we have talked about the health of your mouth affecting your entire body. Many people believe that gum disease is only caused by poor oral hygiene. However, in reality gum disease may be influenced by a number of factors. For women, hormonal fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause may result in triggers that increase the risk of developing gum disease.
Puberty and Gum Disease
During puberty, blood flow is increased to the gum tissue. This occurs because the body releases higher levels of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. Girls may experience tender, red, or swollen gums during puberty, too. Over time, gum sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations will lessen. Dr. Ann Kania recommends that her patients take extra care of their oral health during puberty by flossing and brushing thoroughly. A power brush and antimicrobial rinse may be recommended.
Pregnancy and Gum Disease
Some women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. Common symptoms of gum disease during pregnancy include gums that bleed when brushing or flossing or tender gums. Gingivitis typically develops during the second month of pregnancy and may progressively worsen until the eighth month. Some research indicates that gum disease is linked to early births and lower birth weights. It should also be noted that women who take common birth control medications may experience gingivitis, too.
Menopause and Gum Disease
Like pregnancy and puberty, hormonal fluctuations during menopause affect gum health, too. Women that develop gum disease during menopause experience dry mouth, thinning tissues, discomfort, and changes in the way food tastes. Additionally, their facial bones may be affected. Some evidence suggests that there may be an association between gum disease and osteoporosis.
Dr. Kania strongly encourages women to take charge of their oral health with meticulous oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups. If you notice that your teeth feel loose, gums that bleed, or other changes in gum health, contact our Encinitas periodontist office at (760) 642-0711. We serve patients from Del Mar, La Costa, Rancho Santa Fe, Oceanside, San Marcos, and San Diego.