Periodontal Health Through the Years

Annual Women’s Health Section

 

It’s easy to let health fall by the wayside, especially when life gets busy. But it’s always important to listen to the little voice in your head that suspects something isn’t right. Here, we highlight common health concerns for women, what to look out for, and when to see your doctor. Don’t let your busy schedule stand in the way of getting the help you need!

 

By Lindsey June

 

Women of all ages are susceptible to gum disease due to fluctuating hormones and issues caused by inflammation. 

 

Understanding Periodontal Health

Periodontal diseases are the result of inflammation and infections of the gum and bone that support the teeth. When the gums first turn swollen and red, it’s called gingivitis. If left untreated, this can evolve into periodontitis, a more serious gum infection that damages soft tissue and dental bone.

Women are especially prone to gum disease due to changes in hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which regulate the menstrual cycle. These hormones also increase blood flow to the gums, making them tender and delicate. As gums become more sensitive, bacteria is more likely to grow beneath the gums and around the teeth. 

 

Puberty 

During puberty, girls experience an increased level of progesterone and estrogen, which can increase gum sensitivity leading to tenderness. Orthodontic treatments can make the condition even more difficult to manage. 

 

Menstruation

Many women experience menstruation gingivitis during their monthly cycle. This usually occurs a day or two before the start of your period and clears up once the period has started. Symptoms include bright red and swollen gums and sores in the cheek. 

 

Pregnancy

Pregnant women have a higher risk of gum disease due to rising hormone levels. Gingivitis is common from the second to eighth month of pregnancy. Additionally, oral infections can pose a health risk for the baby. It’s important for pregnant women to have regular periodontal evaluations.

 

Menopause and Post-Menopause

Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal are susceptible to periodontitis, likely due to age-related changes in the mouth, hormone fluctuation, and medications taken to combat certain diseases. You may experience discomfort in the mouth, burning sensations, and altered taste. Menopausal gingivostomatitis – where gums look dry and shiny, and are abnormally pale – is also common. 

 

Prevention

The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice healthy periodontal habits. Brushing twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride, flossing every day, and visiting the dentist twice a year can help you stay on top of potential gum issues. Your dentist can address any specific concerns and may recommend additional tips.

 

Mandy Shearer, DDS at Soddy Daisy Smiles gives expert advice on periodontal health through the years