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Updated on November 3, 2022

The Importance of Good Dental Health for Women

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Why is Dental Health Important for Women?

Practicing good oral hygiene is essential for everyone, but women have dental health concerns that men don’t. Women are more susceptible to hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, which can affect their oral health.

Understanding the connection between oral and overall health can help women adequately care for themselves, especially during vulnerable times.

Common Oral Health Concerns in Women 

Women face many health concerns that are unique to them, especially with hormonal fluctuations. These health concerns can also negatively impact their oral health and include:

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and makes them brittle. It commonly develops at older ages. 

Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. About 18.8% of women over 50 report osteoporosis in their neck and spine, as opposed to 4.2% of men over 50.1

Studies have found osteoporosis correlates to oral health conditions such as periodontal disease, reduced jaw bone density, and tooth loss.2

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, especially anorexia and bulimia, are more prevalent in women than men.3 These disorders can have negative repercussions on oral health.

People with anorexia show a higher likelihood of neglecting their dental care.4 People who engage in self-induced vomiting may see erosion of their teeth. This is due to the chemical effects of regurgitating gastric acid.

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs)

Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of disorders that cause dysfunction in the jaw and its mobility. Women are at a higher risk of developing TMD than men, and they report more orofacial pain than their male counterparts.5

Some studies suggest that the development of TMD in women may have a hormonal component, but further research is necessary to confirm this.4

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is an immune system disorder characterized by dry eyes and a dry mouth. It occurs more frequently in women than men, at a 16:1 ratio.6

This syndrome affects the salivary gland, causing it to reduce the production of saliva. Dry mouth can lead to increased tooth decay and oral thrush. Regular dental visits and treatment can help manage Sjögren’s syndrome in women.

Other Concerns

Socioeconomic factors can affect women’s oral health, too. Women in low-income households or who are uninsured are less likely to receive necessary dental care. In 2018, 23.5% of women reported an untreated dental health issue.7

Women are also more likely to be victims of violence that can result in a dental injury, especially domestic violence.4 Trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make visiting the dentist a distressing experience, which may prevent some women from seeking care.

Women’s Oral Health and Hormones 

Hormonal events and imbalances can impact women’s oral health. Women must take special care of their dental hygiene during vulnerable times, such as pregnancy and menopause. 

Knowing how hormones and other factors can affect oral health is helpful.

Puberty and Hormones

Puberty causes estrogen and progesterone levels to rise in girls. These increased hormones can cause higher bacteria growth, which can cause gum disease and gingivitis.8 

Pregnancy

Only 22 to 34% of women in the U.S. consult a dentist during pregnancy.9 However, practicing good oral hygiene is vital during pregnancy, as it can impact both the mother and child.

Hormone fluctuations associated with pregnancy can cause gingivitis and gum disease. Acid from morning sickness and vomiting can lead to tooth erosion.

Studies show that oral health concerns may also cause issues for the child. Periodontitis, for example, may be associated with preterm birth and low birth weight.9 Practicing good oral hygiene can lead to positive outcomes for the baby.

Menopause

Menopause, when the menstrual cycle ends, is a physiological event women experience later in life. It decreases the hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, that increase during puberty and menstruation.

Many post-menopausal women report oral discomfort, including dry mouth, burning mouth, and pain. Sixty percent of post-menopausal women experience periodontal issues due to hormone decline.10

Oral Contraceptives

Taking oral contraceptives or birth control can affect women’s oral health. Research has shown that women who take oral contraceptives have:

  • Higher pocket depth, or an increased space between the gum and tooth
  • Poor periodontal and gingival health
  • Increased inflammation
  • Attachment loss, causing teeth to migrate or fall out11

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease occurs more commonly in women, with up to 5% of the female population experiencing alterations in thyroid function.12 It’s even more common to have thyroid dysfunction after pregnancy.

Women with thyroid disease may experience increased gum bleeding and are more susceptible to infection.

Best Dental Health Routine for Women

Women should always engage in good oral hygiene practices, regardless of the stage of their life. Follow these tips to keep your teeth, mouth, and entire body healthy:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss once daily
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, including during pregnancy
  • Maintain a nutritious diet and reduce consumption of sugary drinks and foods
  • Quit or reduce smoking

If you’re experiencing hormonal changes, be extra vigilant of your oral health. Consult your dentist to better understand how to care for your oral health.

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When to See a Dentist

Visit your dentist at least twice a year for standard check-ups. Also, see them if anything changes in your hormonal health, you become pregnant, or you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Ulcers or sores that refuse to heal
  • Jaw, gum, or tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures
  • Loose teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Burning sensation in the mouth

Summary

Women have unique oral health concerns that affect them at higher rates than men. Women’s issues that impact dental health include hormonal fluctuations during physiological events, osteoporosis, eating disorders, and physical violence.

Maintaining good oral hygiene can mitigate dental health issues. Women must be diligent about their dental health, especially during pregnancy and menopause.

12 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 3, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Osteoporosis.” National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  2. Anil, S., et al. “Impact of osteoporosis and its treatment on oral health.” The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, National Library of Medicine, 2013.
  3. Striegel-Moore, R., et al. “Gender Difference in the Prevalence of Eating Disorder Symptoms.” International Journal of Eating Disorders, National Library of Medicine, 2010.
  4. Women’s Oral Health Issues.” ADA Center for Professional Success, American Dental Association, 2006.
  5. Häggman-Henrikson, B. “Increasing gender differences in the prevalence and chronification of orofacial pain in the population.” The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, LWW Journals, 2020.
  6. Brandt, J., et al. “Sex differences in Sjögren’s syndrome: a comprehensive review of immune mechanisms.” Biology of Sex Differences, National Library of Medicine, 2015.
  7. Untreated dental caries, by selected characteristics: United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2015–2018.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
  8. Boyapati, R., et al. “Influence of Female Sex Hormones in Different Stages of Women on Periodontium.” Journal of Mid-Life Health, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  9. Silk, H., et al. “Oral Health During Pregnancy.” American Family Physician, American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008.
  10. Dutt, P., et al. “Oral Health and Menopause: A Comprehensive Review on Current Knowledge and Associated Dental Management.” Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research, National Library of Medicine, 2013.
  11. Prachi, S., et al. “Impact of oral contraceptives on periodontal health.” African Health Sciences, National Library of Medicine, 2019.
  12. Chandna, S., et al. “Oral manifestations of thyroid disorders and its management.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Library of Medicine, 2011.
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