The changes going on in your body, and of those you love, do not just affect mood, but also your oral health.
These changes are the result of puberty, menopause, taking certain types of medication like birth control, and being pregnant.
Here we will explain how the changes affect your mouth, and then discuss simple common sense approaches to ensuring they don’t wreck your smile.
How Hormonal Fluctuations Affect Oral Health
During puberty young boys and girls experience an increase in estrogen and testosterone. Additionally, blood flow increases, including to the gums. This results in a different reaction to the buildup of plaque, which is why young teens are more prone to having swollen gums, or even slight bleeding when brushing or flossing.
The same thing can happen when a woman takes birth control, particularly with an oral contraceptive that boosts one’s level of progesterone. If taking an oral contraceptive, you should tell your dentist.
Pregnancy can result in higher risk of gum disease between the 2nd and the 8th month. This is especially because of the increase in progesterone. But morning sickness can also lead to more cavities resulting from stomach acid promoting tooth decay.
Lastly, and it is going to seem as though we are picking on women here, menopause can often result in dry mouth, particularly for those taking certain medications. Saliva is a natural cleanser of bacteria that likes to eat away at our teeth. Those suffering from dry mouth find that they are at higher risk for cavities and other oral health issues.
Now that we have discussed the problems let’s address some simple fixes.
Simple Fixes: Daily Oral Hygiene & 6-Month Visits
Naturally, we promote you get to the dentist every 6 months for your regular checkup. But that will not be enough. Daily maintenance is a must!
Brushing: You need to brush twice a day. Brushing should be gentle and last from 1-2 minutes. Too much brushing can wear away the enamel. Brushing too hard can wear away your gum line. Some patients are unsure as to whether they should do their morning brushing after breakfast or before. Honestly, the key is simply to brush, though we would advise rinsing at a minimum before eating.
Flossing: If you don’t floss you should start. An un-flossed mouth is harboring all kinds of things that cause malodorous breath. While mouthwash can freshen up the smell, it will be back because of the festering bits of food that are literally rotting at about 100 degrees. Flossing should be gentle, as well. You should bring the floss slightly up into the gum line, but not too far. If you’ve never flossed there may be some blood, but after 2-4 days that should stop.
Mouthwash: Some mouthwashes are better than others. If you find one you enjoy, then that’s great. But mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing and flossing – merely a complement to them.
By following this guidance whatever worries you’re having should be assuaged. Good habits will prevent periodontal issues from occurring, and they should include proper brushing and flossing.