Dental health risks change depending on a person’s age and gender. In a previous post, we described some of the most important dental risks facing older adults in the U.S. This post lists answers to some of the most common questions we hear from women about oral health issues.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Dental Health?
Pregnant women have several special oral health care concerns. The following are the most common.
- An unborn baby’s teeth begin to grow between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, and the mother’s diet has direct implications on the health of those teeth. Eating a balanced diet filled with calcium, protein, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and D will help the baby’s teeth.
- Check-Up Timing and Schedule: It’s best to go for a check-up earlier in the pregnancy. If you need x-rays, the risk to the unborn baby is smallest early on. Plus, many women in the late stages of pregnancy get uncomfortable sitting in the dental chair.
- Thanks to hormone changes, pregnant women are more at risk to develop gum disease (called pregnancy gingivitis).
Are Women More at Risk to Certain Problems More than Men?
Female hormones can lead to an increase in some problems, such as:
- Cold sores
- Canker sores
- Dry mouth
- Changes in taste
- Higher risk of gum disease
Women also suffer from Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders more than men, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Can Breast Cancer Treatment Affect My Dental Health?
Yes. Chemotherapy for breast cancer will suppress white cells, which protect against infection. The bacteria that cause tooth decay will therefore not meet as much resistance as they normally would. Additionally, chemo increases the risk that doing an invasive procedure – like a tooth extraction or deep cleaning – will cause infection.
Our best recommendation for women who are about to start chemotherapy for breast cancer is to get a check-up before therapy starts and to pay keen attention to your oral hygiene routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing during treatment.
It should be noted, however, that radiation therapy for breast cancer does not affect a woman’s oral health.