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Oral Changes Throughout Lifetime

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As women, our bodies experience many changes over our lifetimes and the way we take care of our mouths should too! As we age, our hormone levels constantly fluctuate- during puberty, monthly menstruations, pregnancies, and menopause. These variations affect oral and dental hygiene.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF), the surge of hormones experienced in puberty increases the blood flow to the gums, predisposing young women to swelling, tenderness, and increased bleeding when brushing and flossing teeth. Soft bristled brushes and a more gentle technique when brushing and flossing could help prevent against any unnecessary pain and bleeding.

This is seen again during the menstrual cycle, particularly as a result of increased progesterone production, and is referred to as menstruation gingivitis. As described by CCF, symptoms generally begin 1-2 days before the start of the period and gums return to normal soon after the cycle begins.

Pregnancy and hormones go hand-in-hand, but pregnancy, hormones, and gum disease? The high levels of progesterone (which rise as pregnancy progresses) cause inflammation of the blood vessels and make our gums more susceptible to bacteria and plaque. This type of pregnancy gingivitis may require more frequent dental visits or perhaps more thorough oral care during the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy.

When we reach menopause, there are so many changes happening. Levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone individually fluctuate during the perimenopausal stage, but ultimately lead to a lowered level of all three hormones at the onset of menopause. The lowered production of estrogen puts women at risk for bone loss, thus affecting the teeth and jaw.

Other possible symptoms include altered taste, temperature sensitivities, and dry mouth. A loss of taste buds occurs as we age, blurring the tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. This may result in the use of increased seasonings and pose threat to tooth erosion without increased dental care.

Dry mouth occurs because of a decrease in the production of our salivary glands.

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EmpowHER Guest

Women should also visit their dental health care provider (ie: dental hygienist) at a minimum of twice yearly, and more frequently if unable to diminish the bleeding with proper home carte as this could be a sign of periodontal disease.

April 7, 2010 - 11:09am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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