Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause spell trouble for teeth
With all the changes taking place in a woman's body during stages like puberty, pregnancy, lactation, menstruation, and menopause, women can expect some oral health changes as well, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an international organization of 34,000 general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education to ensure the best possible dental care for the patient. Elevated levels in sex hormones can also jump start oral health problems.
Early on, menstruation may cause swollen gums, herpes-type lesions and ulcers. Later in life, women going through menopause may experience oral problems like pain, burning sensation, bad taste, and dry mouth, as well as bone loss due to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by a decrease in bone mass with decreased density and enlargement of bone spaces.
Pregnant women frequently experience increased oral sensitivity and often suffer inflammation of the gums, or gingivitis, due to hormonal changes. Along with a strict oral hygiene routine, the patient should begin a personal and professional plaque control regimen to treat or prevent gingivitis. Periodontal therapy, if necessary, should begin after the woman gives birth.
"During pregnancy, women can expect to see changes in their mouth. Gingivitis is common, partly due to hormonal changes," says Barbara J. Steinberg, DDS, spokesdentist for the Academy.
Dr. Steinberg says women may need more frequent dental exams during pregnancy, and recommends that women "even contemplating pregnancy," get an oral exam.
When the dentist asks a woman whether she has recently given birth, might possibly be pregnant, is breast feeding, or is going through menopause, the dentist isn't just nosy. This information is crucial to a dentist planning to administer medication because if a woman is pregnant or lactating, the medication could affect the fetus or newborn child.