Connecting Women’s Oral Health to Systemic Health

This month, we recognize several occasions in honor of women, including Mother’s Day and National Women’s Health Week. And, in light of some of the recent medical studies which have called attention to the topic, I wanted to share insights on the relationship between women’s oral health and overall systemic health.

Throughout a woman’s life, she must be aware of different changes occurring within her own body and how these changes impact her oral health and are related to her overall health. Key examples of the correlation include:

Menopause and menstruation

A marked decline or increase in levels of Estrogen and Progesterone can result in a predisposition to a wide array of issues, including Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis and numerous Autoimmune diseases. Increased hormone levels can also be the cause of Gingivitis and Periodontal problems that are characterized by very high levels of bacteria that can enter the bloodstream.

It is very important to act when there are signs of Gingivitis or Periodontal Diseaseas they can be evidence of a compromised immune system that can lead to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and an increased risk of fungal infections. Additionally, opportunistic infections like these often lead to Gastric issues and poor digestion that can hinder a woman’s proper nutrition leading to a host of other issues.

Pregnancy

Proper oral care during pregnancy is critical as many hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy can lead to inflamed gum tissue and Gingivitis. This means that plaque buildup is much greater. Plaque is basically bacteria that if not addressed can endanger the woman and her unborn child.

Pregnant women with Periodontal Disease are seven times more likely to have a low birth weight baby or a premature birth. As a result, the child could have developmental challenges, learning disabilities and delayed and poor dental development. Pregnant women definitely should be aware of these issues and discuss preventive measures with their Dentist to ensure the health and well being of herself and her unborn child.

Osteoporosis

Most women nowadays are familiar with the terms Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. The risk for a woman to develop Osteoporosis in her lifetime is approximately 40 percent. However, a lesser known fact is that as well as other potential issues, Periodontal Disease is known to be a causative factor of Osteoporosis. Indeed, once a woman has Osteoporosis it is likely to worsen the Periodontal Disease, leading to tooth loss, Cardiovascular diseases and gastric issues due to poor nutrition.

Summary

The above are just a few examples of the ways in which a woman’s oral health is directly related to her overall health, as well as the health of her unborn child, if pregnant. The interaction between the patient, her Dentist and the medical colleagues will allow for the complete care of the patient. Women are encouraged to understand the relationship between their oral health and their body and to discuss them with their Dentist.

“Dr. Krimsky’s Dental Wisdom” is a feature guest post from Dr. Peter Krimsky, a Florida dentist and member of numerous professional dentistry organizations, including the Florida Dental Association, American Dental Association and Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He also works with his patients to save money on dental care procedures, from root canals to cleanings with discount dental plans from DentalPlans.com.

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