[Dental Health Week 2016] Women And Oral Health – Puberty
During Dental Health Week 2016 the Australian Dental Association have chosen to focus on the issues that women of all ages may face with their dental and oral health. There are some great resources on the Dental Health Week website:
We want to explore each of the four most important areas of focus. On this page we’ll focus on the dental and oral health challenges associated with puberty.
During the years where hormones are changing and levels are fluctuating it’s important for a young woman to pay attention to her dental and oral health. Young women can face a number of dental challenges as they enter puberty:
1. Gums Can Become Red, Swollen And May Bleed
Hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone can cause the gums to become more sensitive to irritants such as dental plaque. “Puberty Gingivitis” is a real condition that affects some young women at the onset of puberty. It causes the gums to become red, swollen and to bleed more easily when touched, brushed or flossed.
Fortunately, most forms of gingivitis can usually be treated and kept at bay by having regular professional cleanings at the dentist and by following good oral hygiene practices at home. This means that thorough brushing twice daily AND flossing at least once a day becomes a critical part of a young women’s daily health routines
The sight of bleeding gums sometimes causes people to AVOID cleaning as thoroughly as they should, for fear of causing harm. The truth of the matter is that the gums can’t recover unless they are cleaned, which means to begin with, if you are brushing and flossing the gums properly, you will see some bleeding. This should clear up over a few days. If it doesn’t, you should visit your dentist to find out why.
If you are nervous about cleaning gums that bleed, please make an appointment to speak to your dentist or hygienist. They will show you techniques that you may not have thought about and will help you to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
A bonus of establishing good tooth cleaning habits early is that this will prepare a young woman for a lifetime of greater dental and oral health.
We’ve got some helpful resources on this topic:
- How To Navigate Your Supermarket’s Aisle Of Confusion
- Why Your Dental Team Isn’t Just Concerned About Sugar
- Manual Vs Electric Toothbrushes
- Which Game Is Playing In Your Mouth?
- Hold Off On Brushing Immediately
- Assess Your Gum Disease Risk
2. Choosing Foods And Drinks That Are Good For Teeth And Gums
During the teenage years there can be many social pressures to consume foods and drinks that have a high sugar or acid content, and foods that are low in nutrients. This can cause damage to teeth and gums, even for young women who have never had dental problems before.
Sugar is a real enemy of teeth because it feeds the bacteria that live in the mouth. Plaque bacteria (the germs that live in a clear, sticky film all over the teeth) consume the dietary sugars and excrete an acid over the teeth. This acid dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities to begin. It’s important to remember that it’s not always obvious that a food contains sugars, so the young woman who becomes vigilant about hidden sugars will benefit greatly.
Drinking beverages or eating foods that have a high acid content brings the acid directly to the enamel, and can cause widespread erosion. This leads to tooth sensitivity, tooth wear (teeth can end up looking shorter or uneven) and can help cavities to grow larger. Unfortunately, some drinks that are promoted as being ‘healthy’ are actually highly acidic and can cause a lot of damage. Examples are fruit juices, sports drinks and even low- or no-sugar versions of soft drinks.
By consuming a lot of foods that are low in nutrients, a young woman might find she is not getting enough important vitamins and minerals in her diet. It’s well known that a lack of vitamin C can delay healing throughout the body, including the gums.
If you want to know more, check out these pages on our website:
- The Anti-Sugar Movement
- Sugar—Perhaps It’s Not So Sweet
- Nutrition: Why Your Dental Team Isn’t Just Concerned About Sugar
- Low-Sugar Soft Drinks and Risk of Tooth Decay
3. Braces And Other Oral Appliances Can Make Cleaning Harder
It can be harder to keep teeth clean if orthodontic braces are being worn. The brackets, wires and elastics create all sorts of crevices and spaces that can only be cleaned by using great care, dexterity and determination.
Unfortunately, if plaque is allowed to accumulate around the braces, it’s much more likely that cavities will grow and that gums will become red and swollen.
We’ve got some resources about cleaning braces:
We’re Here To Help
If you’d like any advice or help with keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy during puberty, please call any of our locations to make an appointment.