Women today are increasingly aware of the importance of physical and emotional wellbeing. Seeking and embracing a healthy lifestyle has become a natural course of events. But one area of wellbeing which may be overlooked, is women’s oral health.
Oral Health for Women
Good oral health both affects and reflects our overall health. Dental Health Month is the perfect time to become more aware of oral health issues and become proactive in your approach to them.
Preventative steps taken now will help you to avoid more serious oral health issues; especially in later years. Maintaining good oral health is easy when you know what to look for.
Dental Care Glebe, understands the importance of Women’s Oral health, and are here to help.
What is Oral Health?
The term Oral refers to the mouth. This includes the teeth, gums, tongue, mouth tissue and the structure of the jaw. We learn from an early age the importance of brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. We understand the significance of a healthy diet, and the detrimental effects of sugary foods on our pearly whites.
But for many of us, our understanding of oral health and its relationship with our whole body system may stop there. It is not uncommon for problems associated with oral health to go unnoticed until they are quite advanced. This is why awareness and preventative care are so important.
Early Signs of Compromised Oral Health
The following conditions are all indications that it is time to give our oral health some attention.
Gingivitis- This is a mild form of gum disease, characterised by swollen gums, and bleeding when brushing. Women often experience this symptom during pregnancy, or while taking birth control pills. But it can happen at any time. Gingivitis makes the mouth more sensitive to plaque build-up, which can cause irritations. And eventually lead to infections. Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits, will keep gingivitis in check.
Cavities –Tooth decay can occur when oral health is not maintained. Left untreated, cavities can lead to periodontitis, a much more serious condition. Cavities usually present as sensitivities to hot and cold foods, or when biting down too hard. If you think you might have a cavity, make an appointment with Dental Care Glebe, Sydney your local dentist to see you right away.
Periodontitis- This more serious form of disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and allows pockets to form, where bacteria can get in. In time, teeth will become loose and you may lose them. You may also lose bone and gum tissue due to infection. Periodontitis requires immediate treatment.
Halitosis- Bad breath can be caused by tooth decay, digestive or respiratory disturbances. Our internal eco-system is closely interconnected. Paying attention to this oral health symptom, rather than masking it with mouth rinses and mints, will help you to identify the underlying problem. This will in turn benefit your overall health.
Cold Sores- Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. Once we have been exposed to the virus, it remains in our system. It can then be triggered by stress, illness, sunburn, or hormonal changes, such as PMS, resulting in the eruption of a cold sore. Cold sores can be painful but symptom relief is available. Try to rest, stay hydrated and avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods.
Canker Sores- Mouth ulcers are another sign that your system is experiencing stress. Like cold sores, women often experience these with PMS. Take extra care with your mouth at these times, to prevent infections.
Candidiasis- Oral thrush is characterised by the appearance of tiny white, red or yellow raised lumps in the mouth. This condition can be difficult to treat and often bothers women most when they are run down. While Candida can be Systemic, affecting the whole body system, in many cases, it is limited to the oral membranes. There are a range of both natural and pharmaceutical treatment options for oral thrush. Talk to your doctor and dentist about these.
How Does Oral Health Relate to Women?
There are certain key life stages when we can become more vulnerable to oral health problems. For women these stages are marked by hormonal changes. Puberty, menstruation, the use of birth control pills, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause. These are all times during which the body is affected by hormonal changes.
Fluctuations in hormones affect almost every part of our body and in particular, membranes such as the ones in our mouths. These changes occur for women at the following times:
Puberty/Menstruation- Women experience their first hormonal flux, with the onset of puberty. Changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone, especially around menstruation, can cause gums to become swollen, and bleed, making women more vulnerable to menstruation gingivitis. Women are also more prone to cankers, cold sores, and exacerbated candidiasis symptoms before and during menstruation. Taking extra care at these times is important.
Pregnancy- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to sensitive, swollen or bleeding gums. This is not a cause for alarm. But it does mean it is more important than ever to look after oral health at this time. Making an appointment for a dental visit early in your pregnancy is a good idea. Dental procedures are perfectly safe during all stages of pregnancy but may be less comfortable during the final trimester.
Birth control pills- As in pregnancy, birth control pills increase progesterone levels, and can result in gingivitis and cavities, so become informed, and take extra care.
Menopause- Decreased estrogen levels affect the production of saliva and can lead to dry or burning mouth. Saliva protects our mouth, assisting in oral health and comfort. Reduced saliva leaves teeth and gums more susceptible to disease. Dry mouth can also result from the use of medication, which may be more commonly prescribed at this stage of life. Treatment options for dry mouth include chewing certain foods to stimulate salivary glands, avoiding drying foods such as crackers, spices, caffeine and alcohol, and importantly, staying hydrated.
Maintaining Great Oral health
Regular Brushing and Flossing- Keeping up this lifelong routine, with a quality toothpaste and toothbrush, is your first step to great oral health.
Regular Dental Check-Ups – The first stages of oral health issues can be prevented with regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can look for signs of potential issues and provide advice. Don’t let uncertainty or embarrassment put you off a long overdue trip to the dentist. If it has been a little while since your last dental visit, there is no need to be anxious. Technological advances, and pain management options have made dental treatments much more comfortable. If dental treatments make you nervous, seek a dental practitioner you can consult without anxiety.
Healthy Lifestyle- A healthy diet, exercise, plenty of water, and adequate rest all put you in the picture for vibrant overall health, and this, of course, means great oral health too.
Contact Dental Care Glebe and get to know our friendly, skilled and professional team. We are here to address your dental concerns and will ensure you receive the best possible care and advice; walking away with a big smile upon your face!
For appointments and enquiries, please call (02) 9199 4608, visit our website: www.dentalcareglebe.com.au
Or call in and see us at:
Dental Care Glebe
239 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW