Posted on 5/5/2015 by Leslie Davis
Men and women almost always seem to be concerned over who is the smartest sex. Who is the strongest sex? Who can endure the most pain? Which sex is at a greater rate for certain diseases? We seem to pit ourselves against each other on a regular basis. So let me ask you, do you know who is at a greater risk for gum disease, men or women? Unfortunately, the answer is women. Let's explore why this is the case.
Hormones and Gum DiseaseIt is a woman's hormones that put her at a greater risk of gum disease than a man. The hormonal changes in a woman's body make women more susceptible to gum disease. This is due to how a woman's blood stream reacts to the hormones and also how toxins in the bloodstream react to hormones. Plaque releases toxins into the blood stream. A woman's hormones create an exaggerated response from the body making gum disease occur at an increased rate.
When are these Hormones Putting Women at more Risk?
Hormones in a woman's body change 5 different times during a woman's lifetime. The first being puberty. During puberty there is a tremendous increase in progesterone and estrogen flooding the tissues of the gums. This will cause the gums to react with the irritants found in plaque causing tenderness and swelling. This makes the gums bleed easier during flossing and brushing.
During a woman's monthly menstrual cycle is another time where hormones affect gum tissue. Progesterone production is increased at this time and accounts for most of the changes in gum tissue. Swollen gums and swollen salivary glands are not uncommon. Bleeding gums and canker sores are also common. There is an increase in gingivitis called menstrual gingivitis that typically goes away after the menstrual cycle starts.
Using birth control pills will also trigger an increased risk of gum disease. This is related to the increase of progesterone. It is advisable to notify your dentist if you are using oral birth control.
As expected, pregnancy drastically changes hormones in a woman's body and this is another time gum tissue can be affected. Again this is due to an increase of progesterone. This typically peaks during the second month and recedes during the ninth month. During pregnancy it is sometimes suggested that you undergo more frequent cleanings to keep up with the changes of your gum tissue.
And finally, menopause will cause a hormonal change that will affect gum tissue. Many of these changes are age related and are caused by medications used to combat illnesses. The decrease in estrogen at this time puts women at an increased risk of bone loss which can lead to tooth loss. When gums recede it can also be a sign of bone loss. Receding gums expose the roots of the tooth and typically tooth decay.
Other changes that happen during menopause may be a change in taste, a burning sensation in the mouth and dry mouth. Dry mouth encourages the development of tooth decay causing gum disease. Saliva is a natural way to wash away bacteria. Without saliva, bacteria takes hold allowing gum disease to take over.
Preventing gum disease from hormonal changes is as simple as taking care of your oral health. Brushing after meals and flossing is a key preventative task. Rinsing your mouth out with water if unable to brush also helps to minimize the risks in addition to eating a healthy diet filled with vitamins and nutrients which gives your body what it needs to keep your mouth healthy. These things plus regular visits to our office will help you stop gum disease.
If you are worried about your hormones and what they are doing to your gums, please call us today at (602) 551-8665 for an appointment!
Leslie I. Davis, BDS, DDS, PC
13802 W Camino del Sol Suite 103
Sun City West, AZ 85375-4486
Phone: (623) 584-0664
Fax: (623) 584-1728