May 8 to 14, 2022 is Women’s Health Week! We want women everywhere to take some time to make their health, including their oral health, a priority. Here are some tips for women everywhere:
Acknowledge your stress
Stress is something you need to be aware of because it can take a toll on your teeth. With the pressures of living through a pandemic, inflation and just day-to-day life events, you may start to see some negative effects on your oral health.
“So many people are grinding their teeth and we’re seeing an increase in fractured teeth,” says Dr. Lisa Bentley, a dentist based out of the GTA and the ODA’s President-Elect. Look out for the following symptoms:
- Sore jaw muscles
- A headache around the temples
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks and biting sensitivity
“You should also be mindful that your teeth aren’t touching while they’re at rest. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your dentist who may recommend wearing a nightguard while sleeping, which can help reduce the impacts of clenching and grinding your teeth,” says Dr. Bentley.
Dr. Lisa Bentley
Be aware of the role your hormones play
Hormones affect women differently throughout their lives and can impact their oral health. Maintaining a solid routine of brushing, flossing and regular dental appointments can help manage the side effects.
Women who menstruate may notice bright red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, canker sores or bleeding gums starting about two days before the start of their period. These symptoms will typically clear up shortly after the period has started. If not, you need to make a dentist appointment.
“Bleeding gums can cause bone loss. You should take this seriously. If you’re experiencing any bleeding of the gums you need to talk to your dentist,” says Dr. Bentley.
Pregnant women are at an elevated risk of getting gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, in the second to eighth month of pregnancy.
“Your hormones change during pregnancy and your body works harder to prevent bacterial infections. Bacteria can be found in the plaque and tartar in your mouth, so your body might react more to that,” says Dr. Bentley. Your dentist may recommend you get more frequent cleanings while pregnant to help manage this. Dr. Bentley emphasizes how important it is to maintain a good oral health routine while pregnant.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and take a drink of water, you have dry mouth.Dr. Lisa Bentley
Women going through menopause can experience an altered sense of taste, burning sensations in their mouth, increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages and a decrease in salivary flow leading to dry mouth. Additionally, many medications can cause dry mouth, which can lead to oral decay.
“If you wake up in the middle of the night to take a drink of water, you have dry mouth,” says Dr. Bentley. Talk to your dentist about dry mouth protocols to help prevent decay.
Pay attention to your oral health
It’s easy to forget how integral oral health is to your overall well-being. It’s just as important to properly brush, floss and have regular dental check-ups as it is to exercise, eat healthy foods and have regular doctor appointments. Take some time and pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you haven’t been to the dentist recently, consider making an appointment.