Regular dental check ups is the last on anyone’s priority list. You’ll remember to see your dentist only when that excruciating tooth pain does not subside with the over the counter pain killers. Right!!??
Many clinical studies have shown that the bad oral bacteria can have damage your general health condition. Maintaining good oral conditions is hence the key to your good overall health. Likewise, some systemic conditions can also affect your oral health. One such intrinsic factor that affects your oral health are your “Hormones”. Hormones are an integral part of your daily life and play a huge role in growth and development, reproduction, digestion and every other aspect of everyday activities. Any imbalances in their levels affects your health.
Oral health in women
If you are a woman, the effects of hormonal imbalance is more evident. As a woman you undergo certain stages of development in your reproductive life cycle. Any variation in the levels of the reproductive hormones at each of these stages have an effect on your oral health also. Specifically, variations in the levels of progesterone and estrogen may adversely affect your gum health.
Women experience unique hormonal changes and hence are at a higher risk of developing oral health problems than men. These hormones dictate
- Mood and feelings
- Delivery of blood to the gums
- Determine the response of the body to the toxins produced by the components of the plaque.
How does hormones affect the health of gums?
The gum tissues are sensitive to the increased levels of oestrogen and progesterone in your body. The blood vessels in your gums respond by undergoing vasodilation and increased capillary permeability–This means, that there is an increased movement of fluids and blood cells out of the blood vessels. The increased progesterone levels also alters the existing microbial populations.
Says Dr R M Lalitha, Ex-HOD, Department of Oral and maxillofacial surgery, M S Ramaiah Dental College—-“Certain bacteria in your gums use the hormones as a nutrient for growth increase. These bacteria are the ones that lie deep in your gums and cause periodontitis, a severe type of gum disease”.
The stages of reproductive development can be divided into 4 categories
During puberty there is an increase in the levels of progesterone and oestrogen. This increases the blood flow into your gums. The gums become swollen, red and tender. You may also have bleeding gums on brushing and flossing. Do not let this stop you from following meticulous oral hygiene procedures to prevent further damage.
During the monthly cycles, an increase in the levels of progesterone can cause several oral changes including swollen salivary glands, swollen gums, bleeding gums and canker sores. Commonly referred to as menstruation gingivitis, these symptoms usually occur one or two days prior to the beginning of the period and ends within a day or two after it starts. Again, proper brushing techniques to keep the gum line plaque free and flossing regularly will help you control the symptoms well.
A dramatic change in the levels of hormones happens during pregnancy. This is especially with the levels of progesterone.This increase causes gum changes during the second and third trimester. Bleeding gums with gum enlargements may be seen. This is called “pregnancy gingivitis”. Pregnancy itself does not cause the condition . The altered body response to the local irritants like plaque causes the symptoms. Regular visits to the dentist, who will perform scaling procedures will keep the condition under check. And not to forget proper home care with regard to oral hygiene procedures.
Menopause marks the end of the reproductive cycle in a woman. This can be divided into several stages and stretches from around 39 years to 50 years. During this time a decrease in the levels of oestrogen, reduced salivary flow, advancement in age itself and medications that are taken for certain medical conditions all affect the oral health. These changes include a burning sensation in the mouth, a change in the taste and increased sensitivity to hot and cold stimulus occurs.
Dry mouth reduces the salivary flow in the mouth . This increases the risk of developing dental caries and gum diseases. Your saliva acts as a natural neutralizing agent against the acids produced by plaque bacteria. Saliva also helps in flushing of the debris from the mouth. Without these two actions, the chances of tooth decay and gum diseases are accelerated. Reduced oestrogen increases your risk of reduced bone density. When this happens in the jaw bone, bone loss can lead to loss of teeth.
Oral contraceptive pills
Another factor that alters the hormone levels is the use of oral contraceptive pills or birth control pills. Certain types of birth control pills use progesterone, that can raise their levels in your body. You may experience red gums and a heightened reaction to certain toxins produced by the plaque bacteria. Since professional oral hygiene care are required at all times, keep your dentist informed about your medications.