Understanding the importance of oral health for women
The human body is a complex biological structure made up of billions of smaller structures, all working in concert.
When we choose a career as a medical practitioner, there’s a lot we need to understand about how our bodies function, what contributes to our overall health, and the things that can have an adverse impact.
Here at Middleborough Dental Care, we prioritise preventative health care. We think it’s preferable to look after yourself – in our case, particularly focussing on your teeth and gums – to minimise the chances of having any issues, rather than waiting until you have a problem that needs treatment.
Some issues are hard to prevent
Despite our best efforts, sometimes there’s not much we can do to prevent a health issue. Our bodies change over time due to our diet and environmental factors, but also because our biology isn’t static. The chemicals in our bodies change, sometimes reducing and sometimes increasing (even more so if we’re taking any medication).
This is particularly true for women. For one thing, we know that there’s increased production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone on a monthly cycle for women of childbearing age.
Pregnancy is a literal game-changer for lots of parts of a woman’s body and, later in life, menopause is often referred to as ‘the change’.
Of course, the fundamental and unavoidable process of aging is something we all have to navigate.
Oral health for women
Because there is just more going on within the female metabolism, women have higher rates of decayed, filled, and missing teeth due to tooth decay than men.
Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy, can lead to increased risk for various types of gum disease and have been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm birth.
Osteoporosis, sometimes called ‘brittle bone disease’, is a common issue post-menopause. While we automatically think about the impact on the longer bones in our arms and legs, it’s easy to forget that your jawbone is integral to your oral health.
When and why different issues might arise
Three to four days from the start of your period, you may experience increased soreness in your mouth, with your gums swelling and becoming more prone to bleeding.
You could develop a temporary form of gingivitis, which is characterised by redness and swelling of the gums and sores that appear on your tongue and inside cheeks. This usually disappears once your period starts.
Taking an oral contraceptive can trigger the same kind of gingivitis seen in pregnant women, due to increased levels of progesterone in the body. Increased blood flow to the gums can cause swelling and redness.
It’s a good idea to consult your dentist a few months into your pregnancy. Your gums may bleed more easily when you brush or floss, a sign of gum disease known as pregnancy gingivitis.
You may also develop what are called ‘pregnancy tumours’, lumpy red lesions that appear along the gum line and between the teeth. They’re harmless and usually go away once the baby arrives.
Morning sickness can have an adverse effect on your teeth because the acid in vomit is erosive. While you’ll probably be tempted to brush your teeth as soon as possible, it’s best not to brush within an hour of throwing up as the acid will cause the enamel to be damaged by the brushing.
An alternative to brushing to make your mouth feel cleaner is rinsing your mouth with a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup of warm water. You could also try chewing sugar-free gum or eating acid-neutralising food such as milk or hard cheese.
Another condition that can occur is dry mouth (xerostomia), which results in lower production of saliva, which plays an important role in mitigating the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Most women undergo menopause between the ages of 47 and 55, and the associated decline in hormone levels can also lead to oral health effects including inflamed gums, burning sensations, altered taste sensations, and dry mouth.
Each of these can be managed reasonably effectively with medication, so consult your dentist – although we know that doesn’t make of them any less unpleasant when you’re affected.
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is particularly difficult to endure, as sufferers find themselves way more sensitive than normal to hot and cold food and drinks, and that everything tastes a little odd (either quite salty, peppery or sour, or bitter and metallic).
BMS can make the front part of your mouth, lips, inside cheeks and tongue variously feel like they’re burning, tender, hot and scalding, numb or tender.
How MDC looks after our female patients
The team here at Middleborough Dental Care is well versed in the specific needs of our female patients.
We have several techniques and equipment to help us provide treatment in the most gentle and painless way, including the non-injectable local anaesthetic Oraqix, the EMS Airflow that painlessly removes plaque and stains, and happy gas (nitrous oxide).
Mother’s Day Month promotions
Every May, we like to give an extra nod to our female patients to coincide with Mother’s Day.
This year, mothers can book a free orthodontic consultation in May, with braces, Invisalign, and Spark clear aligners all available.
We’ll also be giving all mothers who visit us in the week leading up to Mother’s Day a small gift.
Book an appointment today and we look forward to looking after you in May.
And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums.