Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is integral to keeping up with good overall oral health, especially for women. However, many people may not be aware of the differences between women and men. In fact, women and men deal with very different challenges in the field of dental hygiene and health. Women have some advantages over men while also being at risk for specific dental problems.
What exactly are the oral health differences for women?
Most Common Oral Health Conditions for Women
There are two common conditions impacting oral health in women, such as:
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is chronic pain that women experience in the jaw joints. The common cause of this condition includes chronic teeth grinding. However, there are other causes of TMJ, such as joint structure, vitamin deficiency, arthritis, hormones, and stress. TMD is most common in women between 20-40 years of age.
Some of the symptoms associated with TMD include the following:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Tooth pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Locking of the joints
- clicking of one or both joints
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the salivary glands and tear ducts. This disorder can lead to excessive dry mouth and dry eye, as well as affecting other organs and tissues within the body. A dry mouth can create difficulty when chewing or swallowing, which is essential because we need our saliva to wash away leftover food particles, neutralize the pH of our mouth, and fight oral bacteria.
How Do Hormonal Changes Affect Teeth?
Women typically experience the most major hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Gingivitis and gum inflammation are the most common oral health concerns for women during puberty and pregnancy. During puberty, estrogen and progesterone hormones are produced, which triggers reactions in the gums leading to redness, swelling, and bleeding. Your gums may suddenly react differently to germs and bacteria and, as a result, can cause bad breath, cavities, and gingivitis. Scheduling regular dental appointments for cleanings and exams is the key to keeping healthy teeth and gums.
Maintaining good oral health while pregnant is paramount. Your oral health can affect the overall oral health of your baby, so it’s necessary that you keep an eye on your oral health conditions before the due date arrives.
Much like puberty, the abundance of estrogen and progesterone hormones increases and leaves pregnant women with the development of gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis in pregnant women include red, inflamed, and bleeding gums. Leaving your gingivitis untreated can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. It can also increase the risk of pregnant women having preterm, low-birth-weight babies.
If possible, schedule a regular dental exam early on in your pregnancy to determine if there are any conditions that may need treatment. The best way to fight oral bacteria while pregnant is by making regular appointments with your dentist, flossing daily, as well as brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Women going through menopause are more likely to experience dry mouth and osteoporosis (bone loss) in the jaw. Saliva is important in defending the mouth against gum disease and tooth decay, as well as getting rid of leftover food particles. Bone loss in jaws can affect the rest of your gums and the roots of your teeth, leading to tooth loss.
The development of osteoporosis can be prevented by following more nutritious eating habits that include plenty of calcium and vitamin D. You can also learn how to maintain better oral health, and receive professional medical advice and treatment plans from dental health experts.
Women taking birth control pills or oral contraceptives should notify their dentist. Taking birth control pills can increase the blood flow to the gums, which increases the risk of developing gum disease. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene habits while on birth control.
Eating Disorders & Oral Health
Eating disorders are more common in teenage girls than they are in boys. Studies show that more than 90% of people dealing with eating disorders are teenage girls. Not only are eating disorders harmful to the body, but they can also affect your oral health.
Malnutrition, such as vitamin and mineral deficiency, leads to numerous oral health concerns and problems as the gums lack the materials needed to maintain themselves. In the case of bulimia, acid erosion can affect the teeth and gums.
The best way to receive help when suffering from eating disorders is by seeking psychiatric help to begin the mental recovery process. However, the recovery process for your dental health will require assistance from dental health professionals and a rigorous dental hygiene routine. For women dealing with potential oral health concerns, make an appointment with your reliable Winnipeg dentist. Our office is staffed with professional and experienced dentists that are here to help. Keep those smiles healthy by visiting us today.