Gum Disease Self Test

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may have some form of gum disease. Gum disease can be treated, and early detection and treatment are key! You owe it to yourself to keep your healthy smile! Call us today at (888) 659-9446 for a complete periodontal evaluation.

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Women and Periodontal Disease

Effects of Periodontal Disease Specific to Women

Why are women more susceptible to gum disease? Because periodic hormonal fluctuations during the different cycles and stages of a woman's life can affect many different areas of the body, including the gums.

About 23% of women between the ages 30 - 54 have advanced periodontal disease and a whopping 44% of women ages 55 - 90 who still have their teeth also have advanced periodontal disease.

The main reason periodontal disease is not caught early is that it is often a silent disease, slowly progressing and often unnoticed, as symptoms of gum disease such as pain and loose teeth may not present themselves until it is too late. Women are more susceptible to the development of gum disease at times in their lives when their hormones shift significantly. These are typically puberty, pregnancy, when taking oral contraceptives, menopause and post-menopause. Some women may also notice that their gums become slightly red, swollen and sore during their regular menstrual cycle, just before their period. Sores may also develop inside of the cheeks, and gums may bleed. This slight 'menstruation gingivitis' is caused by hormone shifts, and will clear up once menstruation begins.

Puberty

Puberty in women is marked by a drastic increase in the levels of progesterone and estrogen (sex hormones). This hormonal surge increases the level of blood flow in the body (and thus to the gums), potentially making them more sensitive - especially to the plaque and tartar that may be irritating the mouth. During puberty, gums may become red, tender and/or swollen, but these changes are usually temporary and begin to disappear as a young woman moves through puberty and her progesterone and estrogen levels even out.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women with any kind of infection are at risk for premature birth and low birth weight babies. One such culprit is periodontal disease. Pregnancy itself also may cause changes in periodontal health for the expectant mother. During the first trimester, in the second or third month of pregnancy, women may experience what is called "termed pregnancy gingivitis". Termed pregnancy gingivitis is a condition that causes tender, red, swollen and/or bleeding gums. Once present, this condition may increase in severity as far as through month 8 of pregnancy, when it will then begin to dissipate.

In some cases, though, gums sensitive from pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants in the mouth and large lumps called pregnancy tumors may form. It is important to know that these 'pregnancy tumors' are not cancerous and are generally painless. However, the tumors may have to be removed by a periodontist.

Low Birth Weight Babies

Smoking, drug abuse, alcoholism, hypertension - all confirmed risk factors that contribute to pre-term, low birth weight babies. Evidence now shows that in addition to all the known risk factors for pre-term and/or low birth weight babies (i.e. smoking, drug use, alcoholism, hypertension, etc.), periodontal disease can also have a drastic effect on the risk of premature, low birth weight infants. In fact, some studies have shown that gum disease may increased the chances of these by SEVEN times, making gum disease a greater risk than both tobacco and alcohol.

Pre-term, low birth weight babies are 40x less likely to survive, account for nearly 2/3 of neonatal deaths, and are at increased risk for congenital deformities. Research is still being done to define the exact underlying mechanisms by which periodontal infections can affect an unborn child. However, if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, and are at risk for periodontal disease, the American Academy of Periodontology recommends a thorough periodontal examination as part of your prenatal care.

Plan for a healthy and worry-free pregnancy by scheduling a periodontal evaluation, because it's not just your periodontal health, it's your baby's health too.

Oral Contraceptives

While taking oral contraceptives does not have an averse effect on your periodontal health, women who take oral contraceptives and are being treated for periodontal disease should be acutely aware that medications sometimes used to treat periodontal disease (like antibiotics) can decrease the efficacy of their contraceptive medication. This is a startlingly little-known fact, so be sure to ask your periodontist or pharmacist before you combine any prescription medication with oral contraceptives.

Menopause and Post-Menopause

During menopause, women may experience changes in their mouths such as altered taste, dry mouth, and pain or burning sensations in their gums, cheeks or tongue. A condition called "termed desquamative gingivitis" where the the top layer of gums peel off, leaving a raw, bleeding exposed surface is also more prevalent in menopausal or post-menopausal women.

Osteoporosis

New research is finding more that bone loss associated with periodontal disease may be related to osteoporosis-related bone loss. The methods used to prevent osteoporosis-related bone loss (Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and proper nutrition) may also be help reduce bone loss in the jaw/mouth.

As a woman, what should you do to preserve and protect your periodontal health?

  • See your physician for annual check-ups.
  • See a dentist for cleanings every six months.
  • See or ask to be referred to a periodontist if you, your dentist or hygienist notice problems with your gum tissue.
  • Remember to tell your dentist, hygienist or periodontist about all medications you are taking, even if they seem unrelated, and keep them updated as to any changes in your health history.
  • Brush and floss daily.
  • Use an ADA-approved fluoride tooth paste.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions, or Request a Free Gum Disease Screening


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