Ladies, in addition to all the other things hormones bring you, they can also cause problems with your mouth.
During puberty, one of the changes that can occur is gums that are red, puffy, or bleed when brushing your teeth. Keeping your teeth clean is the best defense against this. (If you haven’t had a dental visit in a while, you might need one now to get it under control.) All of these symptoms are signs of gingivitis which is the first stage of gum disease.
Hormone fluctuations during your menstrual cycle can produce swollen gums, canker sores, or cold sores. Keeping your teeth clean can reduce the chance of swollen gums, so be sure to see your dentist regularly. The longer your gums stay swollen, the more likely you are to develop gum disease.
If you are prone to canker sores, you might want to switch to a toothpaste that does not contain SLS (sodium laurylsulfate). If you are prone to cold sores, ask your dentist for a prescription that you can take when you feel one coming on.
Pregnancy brings its own set of challenges to your mouth. There is a common myth that pregnancy causes the mom to have more dental cavities. This is not true. What is true is that gum problems occur in many pregnant women. Your gums may become red, inflamed, swollen or bleed easily as early as the second month of your pregnancy. Some women develop benign growths on their gums called pregnancy granulomas. In most cases, these growths do not need to be treated and will shrink after delivery. If they are bothersome, they can be treated with gum surgery during pregnancy. It is important to note that dental cleanings can be done at any stage of pregnancy. More involved dental procedures should be scheduled during your second or third trimesters. Dental emergencies can be scheduled at any time during your pregnancy, though depending on your trimester, care may need to be taken with dental x-rays or medications.
If you have a lot of morning sickness during your pregnancy, the acid may erode enamel from your teeth. This can make your teeth more sensitive. In addition, the thinner enamel means that cavity-causing bacteria don’t have as far to go to cause a cavity. Try to brush with a non-abrasive toothpaste after your bout of vomiting and use a fluoride containing mouth rinse if you can.
And finally, menopause . . .some women develop a burning feel to their mouth. The reason for this is not fully understood. If you develop this, talk with your dentist to see if she or he can help you to get relief. Gum problems can trouble you during this time of your life too—with gums often becoming red, sore, and swollen. This age group is the one most prone to losing supporting bone (gum disease) so see your dentist to make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid this and the tooth loss that follows.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. She is taking new patients. Call 440-960-1940 to schedule. You can find out more about Dr. Robb at www.drjrobb.com or www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb