Women Have Specific Oral Health Needs

Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

A growing body of evidence has linked gum disease to a variety of health problems that affect women, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory problems. Also, women have specific oral health requirements during different phases in their life. For example, changes in hormone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause may affect the way gums react to plaque.

Prior to their periods, some women find that their gums swell and bleed, whereas other women may get cold sores or canker sores. As for pregnancy, studies have indicated that many women have pregnancy gingivitis, when dental plaque builds up on the teeth and irritates the gums. During menopause, oral symptoms experienced include red or inflamed gums, oral pain and discomfort, burning sensations, and dry mouth. Osteoporosis is another factor. Studies have indicated a connection between bone loss in the jaw and tooth loss, because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased.

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