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Protect Your Oral Health During Women’s Health Month

pregnant woman

At Blue Coast Dental, maintaining your whole-body health is just as important as keeping your oral health in check. As part of its most recent newsletter, the dentists at Blue Coast Dental are recognizing Women’s Health Month, which is celebrated every May. As it turns out, women have unique oral health concerns that require their own attention. While it may make sense to typically think about breast or ovarian cancer, oral health plays a notable role in women’s health as well.

It’s a fact that oral health has the potential to influence your whole-body wellness. As part of Women’s Health Month, Blue Coast Dental is breaking down not just the influence that oral health has on your entire body, but how it affects women in particular. The more informed you are, the better you’ll be able to protect yourself.

Poor Oral Health Linked to Poorer Overall Health

Woman smiling in exercise attire

In previous newsletters, we’ve discussed how many diseases carry an oral-systemic connection. One of the most common examples is the indirect link between gum disease and heart disease or stroke. This is because gum disease allows oral bacteria to permeate through gum tissue, travel through the bloodstream, and reach other areas of the body.

However, in pregnant women, poor oral health has been associated with premature births and low birth weight, according to multiple medical organizations (CDC, Journal of the American Dental Association, and the Office of the Surgeon General, to name a few.)

Overall, oral health plays a role in overall health more than you’d initially think.

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Why Women’s Oral Health is Unique

women smiling together

One of the most influential factors that influences the oral health of women is hormone levels. Women experience changing hormone levels at multiple stages of their lives. The menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause can all raise your risk for developing problems with your teeth, gums, and mouth.

For example, when hormone levels rise, it can cause your gums to become swollen and irritated. They may even bleed, especially if you are pregnant. The body’s immune system is far more sensitive in this state, which is why it’s especially important to manage inflammation of the gums if it appears. As you experience your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels can also fluctuate, leading to higher levels of progesterone. This hormone can also cause swelling, redness, and bleeding in the gums.

Furthermore, those who take hormonal birth control, which includes the pill, shot, vaginal ring or IUD, may experience increased estrogen and progesterone levels. This can also make the gums sensitive, red or swollen. If you plan on getting a tooth extracted in the future, your risk for dry socket goes up if you’re on hormonal birth control. This is why it’s always crucial to tell our office what medications you’re currently taking prior to treatment.

Finally, those who have experienced menopause will have much lower levels of estrogen as a result. When it comes to oral health, dry mouth is common, which can increase your risk for tooth decay, sore and sensitive gums, infections, ulcers and cavities. It can even increase your risk for osteoporosis, which allows gum disease to happen more quickly. If you lose enough bone inside your jaw, it can increase your risk for tooth loss.

How You Can Prevent Problems Today

Woman flossing here teeth

With these facts in mind, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of routine dental care habits as a woman. Thankfully, most of these preventive habits are easy to practice. Take note of them below as recommended by our office! They include:

  • Visiting the dentist twice a year – This includes both exams and cleanings, two treatments essential to catching dental disease and oral cancer early and removing calcified plaque.
  • Keeping a healthy diet – Limit sugar-filled foods and drinks, such as candy and soda. Floss daily and brush after meals whenever possible.
  • Avoid tobacco – This means you should avoid smoking and chewing tobacco. Both increase your risk for gum disease and oral/throat cancer.
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily – Make sure your toothpaste is fluoridated and your floss fits comfortably between your teeth.

Has it been a long time since your last dental visit? Do you know a family member who is past due for a routine checkup? We’d be more than happy to accommodate you or your family member! Feel free to give the dentists at Blue Coast Dental a call and we’ll fit you in for an appointment.

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