Your Mother’s Day gift: What women should know about oral health
Women are special. They should be celebrated all year round, whether they’re mothers or not. And we’re not just saying that because Middleborough Dental Care is an all-female-staffed practice 😊
Of course, some members of the opposite sex (and kids) need a bit of prompting to give their partners, wives, and/or mothers a little bit of well-deserved extra love, so someone came up with the bright idea of Mother’s Day. The least you can do is get her a card and a bunch of flowers!
We’ve got two gifts for all our female patients for Mother’s Day:
1/ this blog post, all about “secret” women’s oral health business (okay, men can read it, too); and
2/ an electric toothbrush, which will go to one of our female patients at the end of the month.
To go into the draw for the toothbrush, just book a visit in May and you’ll be entered automatically.
Now to the facts …
Menstruation can affect your teeth and gums
It might not, but there’s a chance your period can cause some oral health issues.
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. This is caused by increased amounts of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in your body and an accompanying build-up of plaque.
Or 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. Fortunately, it usually disappears once your period starts.
Taking the oral contraceptive (the pill) can also trigger the same kind of gingivitis seen in pregnant women, due to increased levels of progesterone in the body. If the accompanying swelling and redness – which is caused by increased blood flow to the gums – continues for longer than the first few months after you start taking the pill, or gets worse, you might need to look for an alternative.
Oral health issues during pregnancy are common
The hormonal changes your body undergoes during pregnancy are fairly widespread, and your teeth, mouth, and gums certainly aren’t exempt. This means 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. This is more likely if you’ve previously had some gum inflammation.
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.
Menopause is a time of life when oral health issues can flare up
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.
Osteoporosis is also an oral health issue
Post-menopause, many women are affected by osteoporosis, sometimes called brittle bine disease. We tend to think of the longer bones in our arms and legs, or even the more structural bones in our backs as being the ones most afflicted, however your mouth isn’t immune.
Osteoporosis can cause the bone in your jaw to recede, leading to gum reduction and tooth loss.
Trust your medical professionals
Whether it’s your GP pointing out a potential issue or your dental practitioner who flags something that might need treatment and/or medication, regular check-ups are most likely to catch an issue before it gets worse.
There’s no reason to endure any of these conditions – particularly during pregnancy, when you’ve got more than enough going on with your body.
Come and see us this Mother’s Month!
As a clinic with an all-female staff, there’s no excuse not to talk to us about any issues at any time.
If you book a visit before the end of May, we’ll put you in the draw for our Mother’s Day gift of an electric toothbrush.
See you soon … and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums.