dental health

Did You Know Menstruation Can Affect Your Teeth?

As women, the changes in your hormones affect your teeth and gums from the onset of adolescence all the way through to menopause. This following FAQ will help you understand some issues. But, it’s important to keep up with cleanings and exams, and to talk to your dentist about any unusual changes or issues that concern you.

Is it normal for my pre-teen to see some blood in the sink when she brushes and flosses?

“During puberty, females have a surge in their hormones,” explains Virtua dentist Richard D’Eustachio, DDS, and faculty member at Virtua’s dental residency program. “This increases blood flow to the gums, which causes them to become red, tender and swollen.” 

Why does my 16 year-old daughter drool on her pillow and get canker sores (small ulcers) in her mouth?

Chances are, this happens when she’s having her period. When menstruation begins, the increase in estrogen can cause the gums to turn bright red, saliva production to increase, and canker sores to appear. You can reassure her that, although it may be a lousy time, the mess in her mouth will clear up a few days after her cycle ends.

Can bad breath have something to do with being pregnant?

If you’re in your second to eighth month, yes, it can. Pregnancy gingivitis and sore gums occurs in 60 to 70 percent of women due to the increase in hormone levels. Painful gums may make brushing and flossing difficult, causing dental hygiene to falter leading to halitosis (bad breath).

Nearly half of pregnant women in the United States have untreated cavities or gum disease. They may fear that dental treatment can harm their unborn babies, but that’s not true. The truth is that untreated tooth decay puts both the mother and her baby at serious risk for infection.

“Women who are pregnant should have more frequent dental cleanings,” advises Dr. D’Eustachio.

Do changes in taste, dryness in my mouth or burning sensations on my tongue have anything to do with menopause?

In addition to the hot flashes, memory and concentration issues and decreased libido, the decline in estrogen that comes with menopause ALSO causes decreased salivary flow. This explains not only dry mouth but also increased acidity. To help this, brushing your tongue should always be part of your oral hygiene regimen. Dr. D’Eustachio also recommends getting a bone scan to assess bone loss in the jaw, which can cause soreness.

And last but not least, always tell the dentist about any and all medications that you’re taking, including oral contraceptives, as these can affect your dental health. With the proper dental care and communication, you can keep your pearly whites for a lifetime.

Updated June 6, 2016

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