Women and women’s advocates continually strive for equality in pay, education, representation, and health care. There is still progress to be made. Women are not always seen and heard, especially by the medical community. This extends to women’s dental health, too.
Following International Women’s Day, we’ve put together some facts about women’s dental concerns and how gender plays a role in oral health. It might be a surprise to learn that women have unique needs when it comes to dental care.
A woman’s oral health is essential for her overall health, with heart disease and respiratory stroke disorders having a correlation to gum disease. The tissues in our mouths rely heavily on the same hormones that our reproductive system depends on, so as hormone levels become more erratic, these tissues struggle to do their job, placing pressure on the teeth and gums. With more concentrated changes in hormones, women are more likely to experience sudden spikes in oral health issues.
The Role of Hormones in Oral Health
Women’s bodies go through many changes throughout their lives, more so than men, with new oral health concerns expected to appear during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
Here are some hormone-related facts that are unique to women:
Puberty can make young women suffer from sore or bleeding gums and they may also be prone to cold sores and canker sores
Women that take oral contraceptives have an increased risk of gingivitis (gum disease) because of the progesterone and oestrogen in the tablets
Pregnant women are more at risk of gum disease
Women in menopause may experience tooth loss, sensitive gums and altered taste sensations
Discussing hormones with your dentist might not be something that you’d think to do, but it can be helpful. There may be things a dentist can recommend for various life stages and the dental changes that come along with it.
There are some preventative measures to help keep your teeth and gums healthy across the different stages of your life, here are some examples:
Use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth twice daily, and floss at least once a day
Keep a nutritious and well-balanced diet
Change your toothbrush regularly - at least twice or three times a year
Avoid artificially sweetened food and drinks
Do not smoke
Visit your dentist at least once a year
Women's oral health is impacted by hormonal changes that occur throughout their life, including in puberty, pregnancy and menopause. It is important for women to understand these differences and take proactive steps to maintain their oral health, including regular dental visits, a healthy diet and good oral hygiene practices. By being aware of these differences and taking the necessary precautions, women can ensure that they have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.