Written by Dr Sharon Robinson Posted On: Monday, 13 February 2017
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AS a woman, you ksnow that your health needs are unique. You also know that at specific times in your life you need to take extra care of yourself.
Times when you mature and change, for example, puberty or menopause, and times when you have special health needs, such as menstruation or pregnancy.
During these particular times, your body experiences hormonal changes. These changes can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react strongly to the hormonal fluctuations. This may make you more susceptible to gum disease.
Women have an increased sensitivity to oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes they experience. These hormonal changes not only affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also the body’s response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque build-up. As a result of these changes, women are more prone to the development of periodontal disease at certain stages of their lives, as well as to other oral health problems.
With an oral contraceptive, your body thinks it is pregnant, so these hormonal changes can affect your gum health.
Women who take certain birth control pills that contain progesterone, which increases the level of that hormone in the body, may experience inflamed gum tissues due to the body’s exaggerated reaction to the toxins produced from plaque.
Hormone connection to TMJ
Researchers have evidence that the use of synthetic oestrogens (birth control pills) can lead to decreased levels of natural oestrogen. Decreased levels of natural oestrogen are associated with another oral disorder, one affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the side of your head. Temporomandibular disorders result from problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw.
Because more women than men experience temporomandibular disorders, researchers thought there might be a hormone-related connection to this disorder. According to recently published research, this connection between birth control pills, decreased natural oestrogen, and TMJ appears to be true.
Changes in the bones of this joint have been seen. Also, the combined effect of the compression within the joint caused by TMJ disorders and low levels of natural oestrogen can lead to increased inflammation. In some individuals, this inflammation can result in osteoarthritis in the joint.
How to protect your gum while on oral contraceptive
Following these tips will help:
• Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. Floss at least once a day.
• Visit your dentist twice a year for a professional oral examination and cleaning.
• Eat a well-balanced diet.
• Avoid sugary or starchy snacks.
• Ask your dentist if he or she thinks you should use an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
• If you have dry mouth, ask your dentist about treatments for this condition, such as artificial saliva.
Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at Shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.