Because of the changes they go through in life, women can experience acute dental problems. Women’s oral health problems, in many cases, can be related to surges in sex hormone levels, such as in puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause. You should consult your dentist if you notice any changes to your oral health.
Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with TMJ problems (the temporomandibular joint is a joint that slides and rotates just in front of your ear), myofascial pain, eating disorders, and Sjogren’s Syndrome (dry mouth).
The surge in hormones that occurs during puberty can cause swollen gums, especially during menstruation. Herpes-like lesions and ulcers also can develop. Girls may experience sensitive gums that react more to irritants.
Pregnant women often experience gum inflammation because of the surge of oestrogen and progesterone in their bodies. If plaque isn’t removed, it can lead to gingivitis – red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed. Oral contraceptives, which mimic pregnancy, could lead to gingivitis with long-term use. Women who use birth control pills are twice as likely to develop dry sockets following wisdom tooth extraction and should consult their dentist before scheduling major dental procedures.
Women with periodontal disease also are more prone to have pre-term, or low-birth weight babies, and pregnancy tumours, which are inflamed, benign growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated. Usually these tumours shrink soon after the pregnancy is over. The stomach acids produced from vomiting caused by morning sickness can lead to tooth erosion. A paste of baking soda and water should be rubbed onto teeth to neutralise the acid.
Some women can experience dry mouth during menopause. Dry mouth is a burning sensation that can lead to changes in taste. Gums can even become sore and sensitive. Hormonal replacement therapy may cause gums to bleed, swell, and become red. Your dentist will be able to advise you on methods for minimising these symptoms.