Men and women are different in just about every way possible, so it’s no surprise that they face unique health concerns. As a woman and dentist in Rochester, MN, Dr. Gilly Calcagno understands the oral health risks and needs of her female patients. In today’s post, she shares insights into the most prevalent gender-specific challenges faced by women.
The Impact of Fluctuations in Hormone Levels
Hormone levels in your body fluctuate significantly, not only throughout the month but at different stages in your lifetime, as well. At different points in your menstrual cycle, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels affect the way that your body responds to plaque and bacteria in your mouth. As a result, your gums become slightly more sensitive. Menstruation gingivitis, which typically occurs the week prior to menstruation, results in puffy, tender gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. The troublesome symptoms subside within days. If you use oral contraceptives, even those with low doses of hormones, your risk for gum disease increases. Some women develop gingivitis during pregnancy, which is typically more severe than gingivitis during menstruation.
Prescription hormone replacements, including Premarin, Estrace, and Prempro, are commonly prescribed to menopausal women ages 40 to 50. The combination of menopause and these medications causes many women to experience xerostomia, or dry mouth. Because saliva is one of your body’s strongest defenses against plaque, bacteria, and acid, menopausal women have a significantly higher risk of developing periodontal disease and tooth decay. Dr. Calcagno notes that women who have periodontal disease will probably require more frequent professional cleaning in our Rochester, MN dentist office.
More Oral Health Concerns for Women
Women also face oral health risks that aren’t necessarily related to hormonal changes. For example, women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. The condition, which causes brittle, easily fractured bones, affects millions of older women. When bone density in your jaw is compromised, you are more likely to develop periodontal disease, and your risk of tooth loss increases, too.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that human papillomavirus, or HPV, is becoming more common in women. Although males’ likelihood of having HPV is nearly three times higher than that of women, both sexes will benefit from screening for oral cancer.
Disorders of the temporomandibular joints, or TMDs, can occur as the result of teeth grinding, tooth loss, or structural problems with the jaw and bite. The number of women who seek treatment for TMJs is nearly double that of men with similar complaints. Teeth grinding during the daytime, usually a response to stress, is slightly different from nocturnal teeth grinding, which is more likely to be caused by malocclusion or a misaligned jaw.
Dental care benefits all patients, male and female. To learn more about women’s dental health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gilly Calcagno, contact our Rochester, MN dentist office at (507) 281-3659. We welcome patients living in Rochester, Farmington, Winona, Red Wing, St. Charles, and the neighboring communities.