Woman & Periodontal Disease
Puberty and Oral Health
During puberty, there is an increased production of sex hormones. These higher levels of hormones increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritations from plaque and food particles.
As a young woman progresses through puberty, the tendency for her gums to swell in response to irritants will lessen. However, during puberty, it is important to follow a good at-home oral hygiene regimen, including regular brushing and flossing, and regular dental care. In some cases, Dr. Lupovici may recommend periodontal therapy to help prevent damage to the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth.
Researchers found that many women noticed an increase in gingival inflammation and discomfort associated with their menstrual cycle. This is the first time this well-known phenomenon has been studied. Symptoms included a slight burning sensation, bleeding with minor irritation, redness to the gums, oral ulcers and discomfort in the gums. Further studies will be required to examine whether these symptoms will have lasting negative effects. In the meantime, women should tell their dental professionals about changes taking place in the mouth or body. This includes taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. This way the dental professional can explain any effects it may have on periodontal health.
How does pregnancy affect your teeth and gums?
Thinking about being a mom?
If you are considering pregnancy, you should know that in addition to taking your vitamins and eating healthy foods, now is the time to step up your oral hygiene routine. Expectant mothers often experience increased oral health concerns beginning in the second or third month of pregnancy that increases in severity throughout the eighth month.
Most periodontal diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions caused by the body’s response to bacterial gum infections that can destroy the gum tissue and supporting bones that hold teeth in the mouth. The main cause of this disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth.
An increase in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque and may cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. “About half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis. However, women with no gingivitis prior to pregnancy are likely to experience pregnancy gingivitis. Since many people are unaware of the status of their periodontal health, a visit to Dr. Lupovici for a periodontal evaluation before getting pregnant is a good idea.”
Pregnancy Complication is Associated with Periodontal Destruction
Any infection, including periodontal infection, is cause for concern during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women who have periodontal disease, may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.
Is periodontal disease linked to preterm low birthweight babies?
Studies show a relationship exists between periodontal diseases and preterm, low birthweight babies. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease.
Is periodontal disease linked to preeclampsia?
Studies have also reported that periodontal inflammation plays a possible role in the development of preclampsia, a potentially deadly condition that affects approximately five percent of U.S. pregnancies. Researchers found that periodontal disease was more severe in the preeclamptic patients, which suggests an interaction between periodontal disease and pregnancy. In fact, the protein levels of cytokines in the preeclamptic group were nearly three times greater than the healthy group. Additional studies will be required to support the findings, including a treatment study designed to eliminate periodontal disease as a preventive measure to reduce the incidence of preeclampsia.
What can an expecting mother do?
Alterations in psychology and behavior during pregnancy tend to make some women less attentive to personal care. Women who take time to pay increased attention to oral hygiene during pregnancy can help minimize the effects of hormonal changes in the mouth, notes Lupovici. In addition, it is important to continue with your regular dental cleanings and checkups to avoid periodontal infection.
Prevention includes daily flossing to break up the bacterial colonies between the teeth, proper daily brushing to prevent plaque buildup and professional cleanings at least twice a year to remove calculus from places the toothbrush and floss may have missed. Since there are often no symptoms of the disease in its early stages, a periodontal evaluation by your dentist or periodontist is the best way to know if you have any periodontal infection.
If you are planning to become pregnant, be sure to include a periodontal evaluation as part of your prenatal care.
For more information about periodontal disease, speak with Dr. Lupovici.
Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones.
You should always mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives, which lessens the effectiveness of the contraceptive.
Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may experience changes in their mouths. They may notice discomfort in the mouth, including dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in the gum tissue and altered taste, especially salty, peppery or sour. Your gums may look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red mark this condition. Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms.