We know through scientific research that dental health can affect the rest of your body. On a molecular level, our bodies are also affected by the host of hormones that signal our development.
As a woman, you tend to go through more hormone fluctuations than men. Women also tend to me more aware of how their hormones are affecting them. Just as hormones can affect your overall health, hormones can also affect your dental health.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are the Paul Revere of your body. They are highly complex sets of chemicals that send messages throughout your body to control processes of growth, metabolism, and fertility. There are 10 different hormone systems in the body, and they each serve unique purposes.
Your body produces hormones, and they play a vital role in your health and well-being. They can even sway your immune system and alter your moods. Anybody who has dealt with a 6th grader knows just how much hormone fluctuations affect moods. Hormones also affect brain and reproductive growth.
How Hormone Fluctuations in Women Affect Dental Health
Women go through steeper hormone fluctuations than men, which makes women more susceptible to dental health problems. Menstrual cycles, puberty, menopause, and even the use of birth control can affect a woman’s dental health. While there’s no surefire way to control your hormone fluctuation, there are certain things you can be aware of that will cause changes in your mouth and how to combat them.
- Puberty. During puberty, you begin to produce the associated female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Surges of estrogen raise your metabolism and cause folate deficiencies. Folate is a vital mineral in maintaining healthy gums. High progesterone levels also cause gums to swell and can exacerbate the growth of bacteria. This can make teen girls more susceptible to gingivitis, the onset of gum disease.
Estrogen and progesterone continue to occur throughout your cycle. This means that during menstrual periods, you’re more likely to see flare-ups of gingivitis and mouth ulcers. Fortunately, gingivitis is easy to combat with routine dental cleanings, brushing and flossing twice a day, and being ardent in your dental health practices.
- Birth Control Pills. Women on certain oral contraceptives tend to have a higher risk of gum inflammation. Pills that contain progesterone are more likely to be affected negatively. Progesterone is linked to a suppressed immune system, which makes it harder for your mouth to fight off harmful bacteria. A combination of inflamed gums and bad bacteria is a recipe for dental disaster. A recent study found that some birth controls also cause a tendency for decreased saliva production, which can harm the mouth’s ability to wash away bad bacteria.
To combat the dental pangs of birth control, you can practice rigorous dental hygiene, as well as see your dentist for professional cleanings more often. If you’re already suffering from gum disease, you can go to a gum specialist, or periodontist, who will help tame your gum inflammation.
- Menopause. Perhaps the biggest oral health changes occur in women during menopause. During menopause, you start to produce less estrogen, which causes a slew of oral health problems. Decreases in estrogen causes dry mouth, ulcers, and shedding gum tissue. This loss in tissue and bone growth can lead to a greater risk of tooth loss. The sharp decrease of estrogen during menopause can also lead to painful osteoporosis in the jaw, which leads to jawbone shrinkage. Women suffering from menopause can combat these problems with estrogen-replacement therapy and eating a nutrient-rich diet with vitamin D and calcium supplements.
As a woman, it’s important to listen to your body and stay knowledgeable on how your hormones affect your well-being. There are special preventative measures you can take to keep your dental health intact and your hormones well regulated. Stay tuned into our blog to learn more tidbits on treating and preventing dental health problems.