Women and Oral Health
In March we are celebrating women with International Women's Day! We wanted to take this opportunity to increase awareness about some oral health concerns facing women. Did you know that WOMEN often face different challenges than men do in caring for their teeth and gums?
Women make up nearly 90% of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) diagnoses. TMD can be caused by bruxism, joint structure, stress, arthritis, vitamin deficiency, or hormones. Common treatments include stress management, medications, bite guards, and physical therapy.
Another condition that disproportionately affects women is Sjörgen’s syndrome, which causes dry mouth. Sjörgen’s is an autoimmune disorder that is frequently accompanied by dry eyes and dry mouth. Beyond making chewing and swallowing uncomfortable, muting the sense of taste and making it more challenging to speak dry mouth is dangerous for teeth and gum health. Reduced salivary flow can increase the chance of developing dental decay, demineralization of teeth, dental sensitivity, and even oral infections. Thus, it is critical for individuals with Sjörgen’s syndrome to have optimal oral hygiene and be regularly supervised by dental professionals.
The hormonal changes of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can cause oral health problems. Gingivitis and gum inflammation become more likely, which means brushing and flossing are even more essential. Dry mouth and bone loss in the jaw are associated with menopause, so it’s important to schedule those routine dental check-ups and professional cleanings.
Teenage girls are twice as likely to develop eating disorders as teenage boys. Eating disorders attack oral health in two ways: weakening the oral tissues through malnutrition and (in the case of bulimia) destroying tooth enamel directly through acid erosion. It is important to educate girls about the health and dental risks of eating disorders and ensure they are receiving regular dental care.
So what’s the good news? Women are better than men at taking care of their teeth! Women are more likely to keep up with their daily oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits. They are also more willing to go to the dentist when they experience tooth pain, while men might try to tough it out. Even though women are more vulnerable to certain issues, they can significantly reduce the impact by taking care of their teeth which they do well!