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Believe it or not, changes in your hormones can actually result in sensitive gums. Gums become more sensitive, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), because of hormonal fluctuations – such as those common during pregnancy. Hormones can change the way your body interacts with the bacteria you introduce to your mouth. This can result in gum and tooth decay, so it’s important to scheduled dental appointments during pregnancy.  Also be sure to mention any changes in oral health to your OB/GYN to avoid lasting damage.

Your weight. Your mood. Your dental health. There’s one thing that can make all these aspects of your health go haywire — hormones.

Hormone surges may make you more vulnerable to gum disease. More female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause more blood to flow to your gums, which causes them to become more sensitive and “overreact” to anything that may irritate them. Women are more sensitive to the presence of plaque and bacteria around the gums when the hormone levels are high. This can cause your gums to become inflamed, swell and bleed. If left untreated, ongoing inflammation in the gums can also lead to bone loss around the teeth and eventual tooth loss.

Your hormones are a fact of life, but gum disease not so much. It’s actually preventable and reversible in its early stages. So what’s a woman to do? Start by paying extra attention and taking good care of your mouth during these five times in your life. Be sure to keep your health history forms updated with your dentist.

Puberty

Raging hormones can leave a teenage girl’s gums bleeding, swollen and red. (In some cases, the gums’ overreaction to plaque may cause gums to actually grow bigger.) Some teenage girls may also find themselves developing canker sores, which usually heal on their own.

Prevention is the best treatment. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day and see your dentist regularly. Removing plaque and bacteria thoroughly every day can reduce the inflammation, discomfort and bleeding.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body is in hormonal hyper drive. Some women find they have developed pregnancy gingivitis — a mild form of gum disease that causes gums to be red, tender and sore. It is most common between the second and eighth months of pregnancy, and you can help keep it under control through good daily habits. Stay on top of your brushing, stay on top of your flossing and be meticulous about the care of your entire body.

Visiting your dentist during pregnancy is incredibly important — and absolutely safe. In fact, Dr. Terry Bass DDS may recommend more frequent cleanings during your second trimester and early third trimester to help control gingivitis. If you notice any other changes in your mouth during pregnancy, call our office at 405-848-7780.

Menopause

Menopause is a HUGE change in a woman’s life and a woman’s mouth, including altered taste, burning sensations in your mouth and increased sensitivity. These changes are all related to hormones.

Still, there are two critical changes to be aware of: dry mouth and bone loss. Saliva cleanses the teeth and rinses cavity-causing bacteria off your teeth. When you have dry mouth, your saliva flow decreases and you’re more at risk for cavities.

Talk to your dentist if your mouth is feeling dry. If dry mouth is a problem, suck on ice chips or sugar-free candy, drink water or other caffeine-free drinks and use an over-the-counter dry mouth spray or rinse to help reduce the dryness. Your dentist may also recommend prescription strength fluoride toothpaste that helps reduce the risk of tooth decay.

What you eat can also make a difference when it comes to dry mouth. Avoid salty, spicy, sticky and sugary foods, as well as and dry foods that are hard to chew. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can also make dry mouth worse. At night, sleeping with a humidifier on in your room can also make a difference.

Losing bone in your jaw can lead to tooth loss. The decreased estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts you at risk for a loss of bone density. Signs of bone loss in your jaw can be something as simple as receding gums. When your gums recede, more of your tooth is exposed and that puts more of your tooth at risk for decay. And if your mouth is dry, that’s a double whammy.

To help reduce your risk of bone loss, work with your dentist and physician to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D. Don’t smoke and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

If you or someone you need would like more information, contact Dr. Terry Bass OKC dentist to address concerns about your dental health. Call us today at 405-848-7780.

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