Two studies in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Periodontology suggest that periodontal diseases are a threat to women of all ages due to hormonal fluctuations that occur at various stages of their lives. One study looked at 50 women who were between the ages of 20 to 35 with varying forms of periodontitis. The study found that women who currently were taking oral contraceptive pills had more gingival bleeding upon probing and more signs of periodontitis than those who were not taking oral contraceptive pills.
More recently, a review of women’s health studies conducted by Charlene Krejci, associate clinical professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, has shown a link between women’s health issues and gum disease. Hormonal changes that women naturally go through such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause have been shown to fluctuate women’s hormones so much so that they can change conditions in the mouth and allow bacteria to grow, enter the bloodstream, and intensify certain health issues such as bone loss, fetal death and preterm birth. Krejci reviewed 61 journal articles with nearly 100 studies for a collective indication as to whether hormones have a relationship to gum disease and specific women’s health issues. Her conclusion?
“There’s definitely a gender-specific connection between women’s hormones, gum disease, and specific health issues impacting women,” Krejci said. “Although women tend to take better care of their oral health than men, the main message is women need to be even more vigilant about maintaining healthy teeth and gums to prevent or lessen the severity of some of women-specific health issues.”
Also notable in Krejci’s are women’s hormones during pregnancy. There is existing research that states that hormones can cause gum problems during pregnancy and women who are attempting to get pregnant or are pregnant need to be extra cautious about the state of their dental health. There was a time when women were discouraged from visiting the dentist while pregnant but this study shows evidence that a dental cleaning and examination before or during pregnancy is now recommended.
With all of this in mind, what should women be cognizant of? Since gum disease begins with the build-up of bacterial plaque on the teeth and under the gums, the steps that can be taken to avoid it are easy. Brush your teeth regularly — ideally at least twice a day. Floss regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. And visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning. Sound simple? It really is! With your own good oral hygiene routine, as well as the watchful, caring eye of the Burnaby dentists at North Burnaby Dental, gum disease for women and men of all ages — hormones or not — can be kept at bay.