Did you know that besides Mother’s Day there’s an entire week dedicated to women each and every May? Known as National Women’s Health Week, this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health sponsored week is celebrated from Mother’s Day through Saturday and strives to encourage girls and women to make their health a priority. A key party of overall health is oral health, and your dentist in Charlottesville is here to help our fabulous female patients by sharing some key points in life when changes in the body can mean changes to oral health.
4 Key Stages of a Woman’s Life
Change is all around us every day, and as we grow up, we experience changes in our lives and changes in our bodies. For women, the four key stages of change are when our hormones are in a state of fluctuation. During these times, not only can our bodies and emotions be affected, but our oral health can be, too.
The first time women will start to experience hormonal changes is during puberty. While puberty can happen any time, usually between age 8 and 14, it can affect some girls earlier or later. The important thing to remember is that during puberty, tweens and teens will have to go through a lot of changes, including hormonal changes. The hormones estrogen and progesterone will increase during puberty, which can concern your dentist in Charlottesville. Increases in these two hormones can also increase blood flow to the gums. In turn, pubescent girls may experience inflamed, red, and sore gums. Bacteria in the mouth can also build up easier, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.
Shortly after puberty, all women will begin their menstrual cycle. Similar to puberty, hormone levels will continue to ebb and flow throughout a woman’s childbearing years, and symptoms of painful, red, swollen, and bleeding gums may continue. Now, usually, this tenderness and bleeding is noticed during brushing and flossing a few days before a woman’s period and should go away. If it doesn’t, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Charlottesville. Other symptoms of menstruation hormonal changes can include short-term canker sores, dry mouth, bad breath, and an increased risk of cavities.
Women who become moms experience even more shifts in hormones. As we know, shifts in hormones usually mean changes in dental health, and this remains true during pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, it’s important to take great care of oral health for several reasons. First, poor dental health during pregnancy has been associated with premature babies, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Second, half of all pregnant women will get pregnancy gingivitis. It’s recommended that pregnant women visit their dentist in Charlottesville during the second trimester or whenever there’s a concern.
Following the childbearing years comes menopause. Whereas estrogen levels increased during puberty, they will now start to drop. This loss of estrogen is directly related to bone loss and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can lead to brittle bones and increase the risk of broken bones, it can also decrease bone density in the jaw, which can cause tooth loss. However, there are several ways dentists can replace these lost or damaged teeth such as dental implants and dentures.
For both women and men, your dentist is a key part of your healthcare team. To fully protect your health and take care of your body, commit to dental checkups every six months. If you’re overdue for a dental cleaning, call to schedule an appointment today.
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