Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

Maintaining good dental health is a challenge for all of us but it can be especially challenging for women. Women’s bodies have major changes that occur throughout life including monthly cycles and pregnancy. These changes are due to changes in hormones. As you may know, hormones can be responsible for dramatic shifts in our bodies chemistry.

Recent studies have shown an increased risk for periodontal disease in women due to hormonal changes. Fluctuations in female hormones seem to be the main risk factor. For women, this means it effects them over the course of their entire lives. Female sex hormone changes occur at puberty, menstruation, during pregnancy, and throughout menopause. The study found that as female sex hormones fluctuate throughout a woman’s life they can change conditions in the mouth that allow bacteria to grow and enter the bloodstream. This development can and usually does intensify certain health issues like bone loss in the body and especially the mouth.

Female Changes Through Life

Below you will find a list of some of the major hormonal events that a female must deal with that can affect her dental health as well as her overall health.

-Menstrual Cycle. Is the regular natural changes that occurs in the uterus and ovaries that make pregnancy possible. The menstrual cycle is required for the production of eggs, and for the preparation of the uterus for a possible pregnancy. About 80% of women report having some symptoms during the one to two weeks prior to menstruation. Common symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes. These changes can also include increased inflammation of gum tissues and sensitivity to your gums. Maintaining dental hygiene is even more important during the menstrual cycle changes to keep symptoms to a minimum.

There may also be an increase in the development of canker sores and blisters at this time. It is probably a good idea to watch these sores and ensure they go away in a  timely manner. If the sores become inflamed or linger for longer than 5-7 days it is best to see your dentist as soon as possible.

-Pregnancy. Another major period of change within a woman’s body. During pregnancy, hormones like estrogen, progesterone, as well as others, rise and fall on a weekly basis. Because of this, dental problems can be intensified and made more serious. Problems that were once unrecognizable before pregnancy may become unbearable during it.

When you’re pregnant, you become very aware of how important it is to take extra special care of your body. You should also know that pregnancy is a time to take extra special care of your teeth and gums. That’s because hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can increase your chances of developing tooth decay, pregnancy gingivitisand advancement of periodontal disease .Studies have shown that women with existing periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to have preterm births and low birth weight babies.

Preventive dental cleanings and regular dental exams during pregnancy are not only completely safe, but are highly recommended by both dentists and physicians alike. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes to a  woman’s body. This increase in hormones causes the gums to bleed easily, become inflamed, and trap food causing increased irritation to your gingival tissue.

Researchers believe that periodontal disease may lead to premature birth by the spread of oral bacteria to the placenta or amniotic fluid. Systemic inflammation caused by periodontitis may also lead to preterm labor and membrane rupture. The probable culprit is a chemical called prostaglandin, released into the bloodstream during inflammation, which can induce labor. Prostaglandin is released in very high levels in severe cases of periodontal disease.

Almost one half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, starting in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. It generally increases in severity all the way through to the eighth month. This pregnancy gingivitis can be very uncomfortable and cause inflammation, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gums. If you already have poor oral hygiene and gum disease before pregnancy begins, expect an extreme progression in your periodontal condition as you end your first trimester and onward. In some women, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants and form large growths. These are called pregnancy tumors. These are not cancerous and are usually painless in nature. This tumor may require removal by a dentist if it persists.

If you are planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to see your dentist prior to trying to concieve to ensure your oral health is fine. You should have a complete dental exam at this time along with a dental cleaning and complete treatment on any other issues you might have to ward off complications during pregnancy.

-Menopause. Menopause may also contribute to some oral ailments such as the following:

1. Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). As a woman’s estrogen levels decrease it can lead to a drier mouth. Saliva is nature’s way of keeping our mouth clean and hydrated. Without sufficient amounts of saliva our teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal infections. Dry mouth can also come from many medications (prescriptions or over the counter) that are commonly prescribed as we get older.

2. Menopausal Gingivostomatitis. This can occur to a very small percentage of women but can be very damaging. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red are hallmarks of this condition. Estrogen supplements are usually able to help to relieve these symptoms.

3. Bone Density Changes. The decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk for loss of bone density. Loss of bone in the jaw area can lead to tooth loss. Gum recession can also be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. Receding gums also expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay by exposing more areas of the tooth to the acids in the mouth. Gingival grafting may be necessary to cover the receding areas.

4. Change In Taste. This is especially true for salty, peppery or sour.

5. Burning Mouth Syndrome. This can affect the tongue, gum tissues, lips, and possibly the tissues inside the cheeks of the mouth. The burning mouth sensation generally occurs from changes in taste and the sensory nerves in the mouth. It can also be caused as a result of dry mouth, poor nutrition, and even allergic reactions to food or drug. If you note any of these symptoms contact your dentist immediately for help in relieving the discomfort.

6. Eating Disorders. Nutritional changes can occur from a woman’s change in her own body self image. These changes can lead to poor nutrition and improper eating habits. These changes can make our teeth more susceptible to teeth damage.

-Birth Control Pills. Another factor that may also contribute is the use of oral contraceptives or birth control pills. These pills trick the body into thinking it is pregnant through the use of hormones so that ovulation does not occur each month. Because the body believes that it is pregnant, the same problems that women experience during pregnancy may occur if the woman is taking birth control. Utilizing this medication makes it even more necessary for you to take good care of your oral hygiene and to pay close attention to any sensitivity, swelling, or discomfort in the mouth.

Female Dental Health Conclusion

As noted above, it is important for women to see their dentist regularly for examinations and dental cleanings as well as to maintain diligent dental care at home. Make sure to follow proper brushing and flossing habits, as well as using a strengthening fluoride rinse, and your teeth and gums should feel comfortable and healthy!

Fluoride has been a controversial subject for many. However, the benefits of fluoride are well known as studies have shown fluoridation of community water has reduced tooth decay by at least 25%. Beyond our drinking water fluoride supplements are also available. For pregnant women, it is important to consider what is ingested to keep the baby and the mother healthy during this critical time.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and community water supplies contain fluoride.

How Does Fluoride Work To Prevent Tooth Decay?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:

1. Fluoride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they erupt.

2. Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already erupted.

Fluoride works during the natural process of building up (remineralization) and breaking down (demineralization) the enamel of our teeth.

-After eating a meal, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization (dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface).

-At other times during the day when your saliva is less acidic, replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent breakdown during the next demineralization period.

Is It Safe For Women To Take Fluoride Supplements During Pregnancy?

NO! Currently there is no evidence to show any benefit to the developing baby’s teeth. In fact they can be hazardous to the baby’s developing teeth. Fluoride supplements can cause the the placenta and be ingested by the baby possibly leading to dental fluorosis (is a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during tooth development).

Conclusion

While fluoride supplements should be avoided during pregnancy they serve a positive purpose the rest of our lives. Whether it is through drinking community water, brushing our teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, and through fluoride supplements provided by your dentist.

Being pregnant is an exciting time but it can bring with it lots of anxiety. Anxiety over doing what it is right for you and your baby’s health. This should include dental health as well since there have been direct links between oral health and our overall health. Once you know you are pregnant it is never too early to start thinking about dental health. A baby’s teeth are already beginning to form by about the 5th-6th week following conception. By the time your baby is born all 20 of their baby (primary) teeth are almost completely formed. Below you will find some helpful tips to care for your dental health as well as the baby’s.

What To Expecting When Expecting Your Baby

Does the calcium for my child’s teeth come from my teeth?

No! This is a common myth but it is simply not true. The baby receives all calcium just like their other nutrients from the mother’s dietary intake.

What’s The Best Way To Maintain My Dental Health While Pregnant?

Maintaining dental health during pregnancy is similar to when not pregnant. To prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease it is important to brush your teeth at least 2x per day, floss at least once per day, and use an antibacterial rinse. Pregnancy gingivitis (earliest stage of periodontal disease) can be especially problemsome especially during the 7th-8th month of pregnancy as hormones are raging. Almost one half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, starting in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. It generally increases in severity all the way through to the eighth month. This pregnancy gingivitis can be very uncomfortable and cause inflammation, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gums. If you already have poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease before pregnancy begins, expect an extreme progression in your periodontal condition as you end your first trimester and onward. In some women, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants and form large growths. These are called pregnancy tumors. These are not cancerous and are usually painless in nature. This tumor may require removal by a dentist if it persists. Research has suggested that pregnant women who have severe periodontal disease may be at a higher risk for preterm birth and low birth weight

Is Fluoride Safe?

For women who take fluoride supplements during pregnancy, it is expected that the added fluoride will help their children form strong teeth. However, this is a controversial subject and has not been fully studied. Additional fluoride will not necessarily aid in the process of enamel formation because fluoride works best when the teeth have fully formed and have erupted in the mouth. Fluoride changes the chemical bonds in the enamel of the erupted teeth to make it more resistant to tooth decay. More research studies are needed to determine the advantages, if any, and the safe dosage levels for prenatal fluoride supplementation.

What About Medications Used In Dental Work During Pregnancy?

Lidocaine is the most commonly used drug for dental work. Lidocaine (category B – No evidence of risk in humans. This category has shown adverse effects in animal trials but in controlled human trials have been deemed to be safe with no increased risk of fetal abnormalities.) is able to cross the placenta after administration. Any local anesthesia can cross the placenta and cause fetal depression, therefore anesthesia dosage should be limited to the minimum required to keep patient comfortable. Luckily, most dentistry can be completed with very small amounts of local anesthetic, thus causing no danger to mom or baby. A major study was completed spanning about 35 years and tracking 55,000 children. The study showed no evidence of any adverse reactions from local anesthetic use in pregnant women.

Dental work often requires antibiotics to prevent or treat infections. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin, which are also labeled category B for safety in pregnancy, may be prescribed after your procedure. The penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics most commonly used in dentistry (penicillin V, amoxicillin, and caphalexin) are generally considered safe for use during pregnancy. Clindamycin, metronidazole, and erythromycin are also believed to have minimal risk. Tetracyclines, including doxycycline, have shown to cause tooth discoloration and impaired bone metabolism. As a side note, taking antibiotics while using birth control medications will generally cause the birth control to be ineffective.

Will My Teeth Be Affected By Morning Sickness?

Vomiting due to morning sickness can lead to erosion of the enamel on the back of your front teeth. However, it is unlikely since the morning sickness lasts for such a short period of time. This is more likely to occur with frequent vomiting over a long period of time. If this is a concern of yours be sure to rinse with water and brush following bouts of morning sickness.

When Is The Best Time To Have Dental Work Performed?

Routine dental maintenance can be performed at any time but during third trimester it might be more difficult to sit in dental chair for long periods of time. The ideal time to see your dentist is during your second trimester, since your baby is more vulnerable during the first and third trimesters, when major development is occurring (first trimester) and the risk of premature delivery increases (late third trimester).

Can I Have My Teeth Whitened While Pregnant?

If you are pregnant, it is suggested to hole off from the use of bleaching agents, this also includes the use of whitening toothpastes. Teeth whitening may be resumed after pregnancy.

Pregnancy Conclusion

One of the best things you can do as an expectant mother is to maintain your own dental and general health.This should include a nutritious diet, regular visits to your physician as well as your dentist. A healthy mom will lead to an easier pregnancy as well as an easier time recovering after birth.

Use of an anti bacterial mouthwash can be an important part of everyone’s dental hygiene. Many people have been instructed to brush and floss regularly but did you know that using an anti bacterial mouthrinse can be just as important? Walking down the aisle of any grocery or drug store can be quite confusing as there are a ton of options.

Types Of Mouthwash

-Therapeutic Mouthwash. This type of mouthwash is meant to fight off dental diseases like tooth decay and periodontal disease. These will have anti bacterial and anti plaque (tartar control) properties. By reducing plaque and tartar you will decrease the risk of periodontal disease as well as decrease gum inflammation. They may also contain fluoride which will help in the fight against tooth decay.

-Cosmetic Mouthwash. These include agents to freshen your breath. They can also include whitening agents. Generally, these mouthwashes do not include any therapeutic agents.

Therapeutic Mouthwash Advantages

-Mouthwash With Fluoride. Fluoride mouthwashes have the ability to possibly help decrease the risk of tooth decay. There have been numerous research studies over the years to prove that fluoride can strengthen and reduce the breakdown of enamel thereby reducing the possibility of tooth cavities. This will not work for all but has been proven to be a benefit for many. Some fluorides are also good antibacterials and help fight periodontal disease (example – stannous fluoride).

-Periodontal Disease Fighter. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque from bacteria and food that sticks to teeth. As the bacteria feed on the food particles they release acids that will break down the bone and cause inflammation of the gum tissue. Our body responds and causes bone loss and inflamed, infected gums. An antibacterial mouthwash may help prevent periodontal disease by decreasing the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth. There is also type of rinse (Periogen) that has been found to dissolve tartar, stains, and plaque. This rinse is a great way to keep your teeth from rebuilding tartar between cleanings. This is a powder that can be diluted with water in a waterpik and tends to be even more effective if a capful of your fluoride rinse is added to it.

-Help Keep Pregnancy Gingivitis At Bay. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene at all times but for certain groups it is even more important. For pregnant women it can be critical to control oral health. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormones are elevated which makes them more susceptible to developing periodontal disease if their dental hygiene is not maintained. Periodontal disease in pregnant women has been linked to low weight and pre term babies.

-Help Diabetics. Patients with systemic diseases that make them more susceptible to infection like diabetics need to reduce the bacteria they are ingesting. It is even more critical to maintain good oral hygiene and mouthwashes are definitely recommended for those patients.

Therapeutic Mouthwash Disadvantages

-Canker Sore Irritant. This is caused when the alcohol content in your mouthwash is too high. It will irritate the canker sore and make it quite uncomfortable to use.

-Cover Up For Bad Breath. Use of a mouthwash can definitely lead to fresher breath but it is usually only for a short period of time. Only some mouthwashes are formulated to actually neutralize odor causing chemicals (example Closys). Not maintaining your dental hygiene, or chemicals from your diet are usually the underlying factors in most people’s bad breath but the mouthwash will just mask it for a short time.

-Alcohol Based Mouthwash. Studies (Listerine) have shown that rinses with alcohol, if used as directed can actually cause saliva production to be stimulated in a semi dry mouth. The alcohol in mouth rinses has historically been used as a way to cause the essential oils (the bacteria killing aspect) in the rinse to keep from separating out in the liquid, and staying mixed. No one wants to rinse with something oily feeling. There are now quite a few alternatives to alcohol to do the job, so alcohol free rinses have become more prevalent. Many people do not like the burning sensation of alcohol, and in people with little to no saliva flow, alcohol based rinses can be quite uncomfortable. The choice is based on personal preferences.

Mouthwash Use Conclusion

Using a mouthwash can be another tool to keep your mouth healthy and free of periodontal disease. If you decide to use a mouthwash as part of your dental hygiene routine remember to continue brushing and flossing as well. They work together not separately. There are a lot of mouthwashes on the market today, talk to your dentist to see which one is right for you.