Most aspects of medical and dental care are the same for all people but there are some issues in dentistry which are specifically an issue for females. We recognize that sometimes these issues can be sensitive or embarrassing and that some people would prefer to see a female dentist. If you’re looking for a female dentist Brunswick, our clinic (Coburg Dental Group or CDG) on the border of Coburg and Brunswick is ideal for you. Dr Christina Jovanovic and Dr Darshanot Brar are very experienced female dentists who can address all of your issues. Here are some common questions:-
How do women’s hormones affect oral health?
Changing levels of hormones at different stages of life can affect a woman’s oral health. When your hormone levels change, your gums can get more inflamed, swollen and irritated. Your gums may also become more red, painful and bleed. This is especially true during pregnancy, when your body’s immune system is more reactive than usual. The increased hormones in your blood stream can cause inflammation (redness, swelling, and sometimes pain) in the gums. Regular, careful brushing, flossing and the regular use of the correct mouthwash, can lessen gum irritation and bleeding.
Other than pregnancy, causes of changing hormone levels that can affect your oral health include your menstrual cycle, hormonal birth control and menopause.
How does the menstrual cycle affect oral health?
Hormone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. During ovulation and a few days before you start your period, higher levels of the hormone progesterone may cause a more obvious gingivitis seen as swelling, redness and bleeding in your gums.
You may also get ulcers in your mouth more often during your menstrual period. These are small sores that have a white or grey base and a red border. These are not the same as cold sores and can sometimes be confused with oral cancer.
How does birth control affect oral health?
Birth control with hormones such as the contraceptive pill, injections, vaginal ring, or hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), can raise the levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen in your body. Higher levels of these hormones may make your gums sensitive, red, or swollen.
Hormones can also affect how your mouth heals after surgery such having a tooth removed or an implant placed. For example, after the dentist pulls a tooth, a blood clot forms in the empty space, or socket. Women who take hormonal birth control have a greater risk of this clot falling out (a condition called dry socket), which can be very painful. Always, tell your dentist about all the medicines you take, including birth control.
How does pregnancy affect oral health?
Pregnancy can make tooth brushing difficult. Some women experience nausea from strongly flavoured toothpastes or have a heightened gag reflex. Changing to a neutral-flavoured toothpaste may help the situation.
During pregnancy, your hormone levels also go up and down. This raises your risk for several oral health problems:
- Severe gum disease (Periodontitis). Changing hormone levels during pregnancy can make a pre-existing gum disease condition worse or lead to severe gum disease in as 40% of pregnant women. Periodontitis is an infection of the tissues (gum and bone) that hold your teeth in the jaws. It’s usually caused by not removing plaque efficiently by brushing and flossing. The symptoms of periodontitis include sore, bleeding gums, pain when chewing, and eventually tooth loss. Women who do not get regular dental care and especially women who smoke or vape are more likely to have periodontitis.
- Loose teeth. The gum supportingyour teeth may loosen the teeth during pregnancy as many of your joints and tissues loosen in preparation for childbirth. Taking good care of your mouth with good oral hygiene measures can help prevent tooth loss.
- Wearing down of your tooth enamel. If you vomit due to morning sickness, the acidic stomach contents that come up during vomiting can weaken and erode tooth enamel (the hard outer layer of your teeth). Heartburn which is another common pregnancy discomfort, can also cause the same problem. The typical symptom of this enamel erosion is sensitivity to cold. To prevent this erosion, it is recommended to rinse your mouth with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a cup of water immediately after vomiting and 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. This will neutralize the acid and halt the erosion process. There are many options to treat the enamel erosion depending on its severity. Our dentist Brunswick team at CDG can help you with this.
Is it safe to see the dentist when I’m pregnant?
It is highly recommended to continue your regular dentist Brunswick visits to help protect your teeth during pregnancy.
- Tell your doctor you are pregnant.Because you are pregnant, your dentist will not undertake elective treatment such as tooth whitening and might not take routine x-rays. The health risk from x-rays to your unborn baby is very small. If you need emergency treatment or specific dental x-rays to treat a serious problem, your doctor can take extra care to protect your baby such as using a lead apron to cover your torso.
- Schedule your dental exam early in your pregnancy. The hormonal changes in your body start early so it’s worthwhile to address any potential issues at that stage. After your 20th week of pregnancy, you may be uncomfortable sitting in a dental chair but we can schedule your appointments accordingly and alter the chair position. We actually believe that you will find our state-of-the-art new chairs to be very comfortable.
- Have all necessary dental treatments.If you avoid treatment, the issues will become worse over time. You may risk your own health and your baby’s health. Any risks are minimized if treatment is undertaken in the second and third trimester. We advise to consult with your obstetrician if you have any concerns and we can do this on your behalf.
How does menopause affect oral health?
Low levels of the hormone estrogen after menopause can affect your oral health. You may experience some or all of the following symptoms:-
- Many women feel new pain or a burning sensation in their mouth during or after menopause. Researchers are not sure about the mechanism of how this occurs but is important to see your dentist so that other reasons for similar symptoms can be discounted.
- Dry mouth.The lower levels of estrogen after menopause also decrease the amount of saliva which you have in your mouth. This results in dry mouth (or xerostomia) which can cause an increased rate of sore, red and sensitive gums including gingivitis, tooth decay, ulcers, and infections.
- Weaker bones. Osteopenia or osteoporosis is a condition whereby your bones become weak and break easily. A very low level of the hormone estrogen which is found after menopause, raises every woman’s risk of osteoporosis. As a result, gum disease can happen more quickly and if you lose bone in your jaw, you could lose one or more teeth.
For further information or to make an appointment to see one of our dentists, please call (03) 9386 1805