Women need to take better care of their teeth and gums than men, according to a comprehensive review of women’s health studies.

The review, entitled ‘Women’s Health: Periodontitis and its Relation to Hormonal Changes, Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes and Osteoporosis’ by Charlene Krejci, associate clinical professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, is featured in the May issue of Oral Health and Preventive Dentistry and reveals that women’s health issues are associated with gum disease.

Hormonal changes occur throughout a woman’s life during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. The findings reveal that the fluctuating female hormone levels can change conditions inside the mouth, allowing bacterial growth, entering of blood, and aggravate health issues, such as fetal death, pre-term births and bone loss.

Krejci and her team reviewed 61 articles containing almost 100 studies in order to establish whether hormones are linked to gum disease and particular women’s health issues, such as loss of bone, pre-term labor, and side effects of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT).

Krejci, a Case Western Reserve University periodontist, said:

“There’s definitely a gender-specific connection between women’s hormones, gum disease, and specific health issues impacting women. Although women tend to take better care of their oral health than men, the main message is women need to be even more vigilant about maintaining healthy teeth and gums to prevent or lessen the severity of some of women-specific health issues.”

Krejci recommends a six-monthly check up at the dentist, aside from daily brushing and flossing, and more frequent visits if there is evidence of gum problems or for pregnant women and those suffering from bone loss.

She explained that it is common knowledge that hormones cause gum problems during pregnancy in some women. She advises that women who are susceptible to gum problems prior to getting pregnant should ensure that their oral problems are treated.

The author continued stating that even though women used to be discouraged from seeing the dentist during pregnancy, nowadays it is recommended for pregnant women to scale and plane the roots of teeth to eliminate some gum disease although in severe cases of gum disease, i.e. cases that require surgery should still generally be postponed until after the birth.

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of bacterial plaque on teeth and under the gums. If it remains untreated, gum disease can lead to irritation and inflammation, which prompts the release of damaging and toxic byproducts that erode the bone that anchors teeth, causing broken and bleeding gums.

Written By Petra Rattue