Hormonal changes that occur during certain stages of a woman’s life may require special oral health needs. Just as pregnancy and menopause can have an effect on a woman’s mouth, so too can puberty.
During puberty, estrogen and progesterone hormones cause a girl’s body to mature. This increase of sex hormones triggers the dilation of small blood vessels in the gums that can result in redness, bleeding, and swelling.
Along with certain body changes, the sex hormone fluctuations and chemical changes in the mouth can change the way the gums respond to germs and bacteria located in the mouth.
Certain microbial changes that occur during puberty tend to shift from a "healthy" microbial flora to a more "destructive" or pathogenic microbial flora. This microbial change is related to the increased levels of hormones in the blood, causing excessive growth of certain pathogenic bacteria.
Accordingly, cavities and bad breath (halitosis) are more likely during this time and gums tend to become more susceptible to infections, such as gingivitis. In addition, it's also not uncommon for ulcers and lesions to occur on and/or in the mouth during puberty.
On a cosmetic level, many teens start to see tooth staining and are interested in having those bright, white smiles they see on television and in magazines. Tooth staining in teens can generally be attributed to changes in diet and consumption of certain staining foods, such as tea and dark soda.
Since kids become much more aware of their appearance at this age, a crooked smile can wreak havoc on self-esteem. Fortunately, orthodontic treatments start much earlier for children these days. But, orthodontic treatments are not done solely to improve appearance.
Crooked teeth tend to have more cavities over time because they tend to be more difficult to keep clean. In addition, pain in the jaw can occur when teeth are not aligned properly.
Brushing for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste after each meal is critical to maintain oral health. The use of an electric toothbrush may help kids reach areas they could not with a manual brush. And, flossers now come conveniently packaged for ease of use.
Alcohol-free mouth rinses are also effective in reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Brushing before bed is even more important because saliva flow decreases while we sleep. A clean mouth at bedtime is highly effective in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Your dentist and/or oral health hygienist can equip teens with the proper tools on how to minimize bacterial growth and clean their mouths.
Puberty and Menstruation Affect Your Oral Health. Web.
http://womenshealth.about.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2012.
Oral Hygiene is Especially Important Among Women: Life Changes can Affect Oral Health. Web.
http://dentistry.about.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2012.
Oral Health Changes in Puberty. Web.
http://technorati.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2012.
Women’s Oral Health. Web. www.idph.state.il.us. Accessed 19 Dec. 2012.
Why Teens Need to Switch from EvoraKids to EvoraPlus. Web. www.oral-health-care.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2012.
Attention: Oral Health Changes When Kids Hit Puberty. www.trainingwheelsfordads.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2012.
Reviewed December 23, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith