Hormones and oral health: what’s the connection? Contrary to what you might believe, when hormone levels fluctuate you can become more vulnerable to oral health issues. It’s important to understand your risk and why, particularly women, are at greater risk for oral health sensitivities when their hormones shift.
The changing hormones that women fluctuate through month-to-month and while aging can greatly affect oral health. These changes can happen during:
Every month, women’s hormones fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycles. For example, before you get your period you may have an increase of progesterone in your body. The higher levels of this hormone can affect your mouth by causing swelling and redness in the gums. It’s also not uncommon for women to experience some bleeding from the gums during this time as well. While you have your period, some women experience minor ulcers, called canker sores, that can be slightly painful and irritating.
When women take hormonal birth control pills, they are typically raising the levels of two common hormones found in the body. These hormones are progesterone and estrogen. Much like during their natural menstrual cycles, this can make the woman’s gums red, swollen, and more susceptible to bleeding than they were before. This is because the gums become more sensitive to plaque and bacteria buildup.
Women who are taking hormonal birth control pills can also experience different symptoms after dental procedures than those who aren’t on any form of hormonal contraception. It’s important to let your dentist know of all medications you take, even birth control, so they know your potential risk of complications after procedures. According to the American Dental Association, taking hormonal contraception increases your progesterone and estrogen hormone levels, which increased blood flow to the gums and makes them more sensitive. After procedures like wisdom tooth removal, women on birth control are more at risk for dry sockets, which is where a blood clot that normally sits in the socket is lost.
When women become pregnant, they’re again dealing with changing hormones that can affect what’s happening in their mouths. While pregnant, women can experience difficult brushing and flossing due to nausea and their sensitive tastebuds. Pregnancy can also bring on problems they might not have ever had prior to conceiving, like: severe gum disease, loose teeth, and even eroding tooth enamel. If you’re expecting, it’s important to let your dentist know.
During pregnancy, it is still safe to come in for your regular dental checkups. It’s important that women continue coming in while pregnant, as we can help maintain their oral health while their hormones are changing. In some cases, we might recommend you come in more frequently during your last two trimesters to reduce your chance of developing these dental problems.
According to womenshealth.gov, menopause is when women lose their periods for good. This means that the woman’s body begins making lower and lower levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. When women go through menopause, they can experience additional pain, but they are also more likely to experience dry mouth and osteoporosis.
Dry mouth is caused by the lower levels of estrogen, which in turn lowers the amount of saliva the woman produces.
As women age and their hormone levels lower, they are also more likely to develop osteoporosis, which is where their bones are weakened. When this affects the jaw, it could result in losing teeth.
Some women in menopause can even develop a sensation of a burning mouth, new sensitivity to hot or cold, or changes in taste. If you have questions about your dental health during menopause, don’t hesitate to ask us.
Men’s hormones far less affect their oral health when compared to women’s hormones. The biggest risk men face with their hormones and oral health is male testosterone. A recent study by Texas A&M University showed a link between low testosterone and the risk of periodontal disease. It’s not certain though if men’s hormones play any bigger part in their oral health. This is because it’s not as widely recognized as the role women’s hormones play.
Maintaining good oral health through all stages of life is important. This is especially so if you think your hormones are causing your mouth major distress. If you need help, call now for an appointment at (970)-223-8425. We’ll be here for you at every stage of life!