Women are continually getting the short end of the stick – suffering from hot flashes, PMS, and now gum disease.
A new study revealed that fluctuations in women’s hormones during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can change conditions in the mouth and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Not only can this cause damage to your teeth and gums, the bacteria could enter your blood stream to cause bone loss, fetal death, and pre-term births.
The study’s publisher, Charlene Krejci, said “There’s definitely a gender-specific connection between women’s hormones, gum disease, and specific health issues impacting women. Although women tend to take better care of their oral health than men, the main message is women need to be even more vigilant about maintaining healthy teeth and gums to prevent or lessen the severity of some of women-specific health issues.”
So, what can you do to keep oral bacteria under control?
Some experts suggest planning certain dental procedures around your cycle.
Schedule a cleaning the week after your period, since swelling caused by estrogen receptors in gingival tissue can throw off results when measuring pocket depth (the space between teeth). A depth greater than 3 mm could indicate gum disease. Additionally, this swelling could make the cleaning more painful, because swollen gums are more sensitive.
The week before your period, you should take extra care to brush and floss properly. Hormonal changes don’t cause gum disease directly, but experts warn that they can worsen underlying conditions. Conditions are typically worse about two days before your period, with a condition known as menstruation gingivitis to blame.
For any oral procedures, from fillings to extractions, schedule an appointment for the days immediately following your period. This is the point in your cycle where hormone levels are at their lowest, and your gums are not as sensitive. Another surge in hormones will also occur before ovulation, between day 11 and 21 in your 28-day cycle. This temporary spike can also cause inflammation and discomfort.
Of course, there is never a bad time to visit the dentist. But, if you want to make the experience as enjoyable as possible, keep these suggestions in mind.