How Pregnancy, Menopause & Menstruation Affect Your Oral Health

mother daughter grandmother smiling teeth on a beachThis year’s Dental Health Week was all about women and oral health. While women and men are biologically the same in many ways and should, for the most part, follow the same dental hygiene routines, there are a few differences that (cis-gender) women should be aware of. While being able to bring life into the world is a wondrous thing, it can have adverse affects body-wide, including your mouth.

So in honour of Dental Health Week, we’ve rounded up three of the most common things women should be aware of when it comes to their dental health.

Pregnancy can impact your oral hygiene

While you might think that this point is in regards to new mothers being so exhausted they forget to brush their teeth, you’d be wrong. In fact, it has little to do with that and everything to do with the actual pregnancy itself. Pregnancy can cause aching teeth, ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ and ‘pregnancy tumours’, which are red lumpy lesions around the gum line and between teeth. Many of these are due to hormonal changes in the body and will self-correct following the birth of your child.

Morning sickness is also something to be aware of as the acid in the vomit can have an erosive effect on your teeth. While it can be tempting to brush your teeth immediately after, this can cause more damage. Instead, try rinsing your mouth with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and a cup of warm water, chew sugar-free gum or try eating an acid-neutralising food like milk or hard cheeses.

If you’re concerned at all by any symptoms, book an appointment with your dentist who will help you establish a plan to manage these quirks throughout your pregnancy.

Menopause can impact your tastebuds

swollen gums
Image credit: NY Times

Ugh! Just when you think well hey, at least I’ve already had my kids so I’m in the clear, along comes menopause to ruin that moment. Menopause brings with it some truly frustrating symptoms, many of which can occur within your mouth. Inflamed gums can mean menopausal gingivostomatitis,

Teeth sensitivity towards hot and cold food and drinks and foods tasting a little odd can be a sign of burning mouth syndrome (BMS), both of which require a dentist to assist with management.

You should also be aware that osteoporosis can often cause issues throughout menopause, which can affect more than just the bones in your body. Teeth and gums have bones too, which can recede and lead to gum reduction and tooth loss.

Having a good relationship with your dentist means that you’ve got the upper hand, should any of these symptoms appear during menopause.

Menstruation can cause mouth sensitivity

Periods are accompanied by a whole bevy of uncomfortable symptoms: cramps, swollen breasts, acne, upset stomaches and emotional stress, to name a few. Unfortunately, we’re here to add one more to that seemingly endless list: mouth sensitivity.

It’s not uncommon to experience gum swelling, bleeding and uncomfortable puffiness during your cycle. If you experience these symptoms, we recommend avoiding booking a professional cleaning until at least a week after your period ends.

If you find regular brushing and flossing uncomfortable during your cycle, speak to your dentist about better ways to handle these tasks during hormonal fluctuations.

While not all women will experience these oral hygiene issues, it’s important to be aware that they can occur and how best to treat them when they appear. Consult your doctor if you find yourself suffering from any of the above, as they will assist you in establishing a plan to best manage them.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, call us on 1300 884 376 (Bondi Junction) or 1300 935 045 (North Sydney) to book an appointment today.