Can hormones cause dental problems?
It is common knowledge that hormones affect your weight, skin, hair, mood, and sex drive. However, not many people know that dental health also has a connection with hormonal changes. Understandably, women are more prone to oral health problems as they experience hormonal ups and downs during different phases in their lives.
For example, hormonal surges put you at the risk of gum disease when estrogen and progesterone, the two main female sex hormones, make more blood flow to your gums. It increases gum sensitivity, and they get irritated easily. Similarly, women get more affected by plaque and bacteria around the gums when they experience a rush of hormones. It may lead to gum inflammation. If left untreated, it causes bone loss around the teeth and subsequent tooth loss.
Well! All said and done, you cannot stop your hormones from functioning. But you can be more aware and take steps to prevent dental problems. Here’s what you should know about hormonal changes during the five stages in your life and the necessary periodontal care to avoid oral health problems that may result from them.
The hormonal storm may cause swelling, redness, and bleeding in the gums. Some may also notice their gum enlargement because of plaque-induced overreaction. Canker sores are also a common oral health issue that teenage girls experience because of hormones. The best prevention during this time is to follow the oral hygiene routine diligently. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day, preferably with fluoridated toothpaste. Removing bacteria and plaque is the key to staying safe from inflammation, bleeding, and discomfort.
PMS symptoms in some women may also include periodontal issues such as swollen salivary glands, inflamed and bleeding gums. Hormonal fluctuations cause these symptoms, and their degree varies from one person to another. Increased sensitivity is another common dental symptom you may experience before or during menses. Generally, these symptoms subside when your period stops.
Maintaining oral hygiene helps prevent or alleviate these symptoms. However, if sensitivity starts interfering with your day-to-day life, it is time to consult your dentist.
Taking Birth Control
The hormones in contraceptive pills, injections, and shots may affect your oral health. The excessive blood supply to your gum tissues and your body’s response to fighting toxins from plaque build-up causes inflammation and related issues. Generally, progesterone in birth control is responsible for inflamed gum tissues.
There is also a link between dipping levels of estrogen because of birth control pills and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Lowered estrogen levels also aggravate inflammation because of the TMJ-led compression within the joint. It may cause osteoarthritis in the joints in some people.
Chances of developing a dry socket after tooth removal also increase if you’re taking birth control pills. It is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clots formed for healing get dislodged from the treated dental site.
The changes in estrogen and progesterone levels because of contraceptives may cause inflammation, plaque build-up, periodontal tissue breakdown, and gingival enlargement. For example, injectable progesterone birth control depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) may cause poor gingival and periodontal health.
So, should you stop taking birth control? No! The good news is newer birth control pills and other options have lower concentrations of hormones. It means a lesser probability of experiencing oral health troubles while using them.
Pregnancy brings a slew of hormonal changes and consequent dental problems. For example, some women may complain of pregnancy gingivitis— a mild gum disease that makes your gums sore, tender, and red. It is most likely during the second and eighth months of pregnancy. Regular dental care at home and routine dental check-ups help keep these issues at bay. Your dentist may suggest professional cleaning during your second and early third trimester to prevent gingivitis. If they notice any undesirable oral health changes during the pregnancy, they will recommend suitable procedures and medications.
Menopause-related dental effects include increased sensitivity, altered taste, and burning sensations in your mouth. But these are not the only changes that menopause brings. Dry mouth and bone loss are two critical changes that may affect you after menopause. A dry mouth decreases salivary flow and increases the risk of cavities. What role does saliva play? It helps cleanse your teeth and wash cavity-causing bacteria off your teeth.
Suck on sugar-free candies, drink more water or caffeine-free drinks, or use an over-the-counter spray to reduce mouth dryness. You may leave it in your mouth or rinse it off to help reduce dryness. Your dentist may also prescribe medical-grade fluoride toothpaste to minimize the risk of tooth decay. Avoiding spicy, salty, sticky, and sugary foods also help reduce dryness in your mouth. Dry foods and hard-to-chew foods can also cause this problem. It is better to stop consuming caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco if you have a dry mouth. These foods worsen this condition. You can also use a humidifier at night. It adds moisture to the air and prevents dryness of the skin, nose, and mouth.
The loss of estrogen because of menopause may cause loss of bone density. The damage may affect your jaw bone too. Low jaw bone density leads to tooth loss gradually. Be on the watch for symptoms like receding gums, changes in facial structure, pain while chewing food, wrinkles around the mouth, as these may indicate jaw bone loss. Note that dry mouth increases the risk of gum recession. It exposes the lower part of your tooth and multiplies the risk for tooth decay.
See your dentist if you notice any of the symptoms above. You may also get a vitamins and mineral profile test to see if your Vitamin D and calcium intake are adequate. Take alcohol in moderation and avoid smoking.
Dental diseases because of hormonal changes may cause irreversible damage, if not treated in time. That is why pay attention to your oral health and stay on top of dental care during these five stages of hormonal changes.
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