WOMEN’S ORAL HEALTH
Sjögren’s and TMJ Syndrome
Temporomandibularjoint syndrome, or TMJ, is the chronic pain or soreness of the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. Women make up 90 percent of people affected by this condition. There are several presumed causes of why women are more vastly impacted by TMJ—such as stress, joint structure and collagen placement in a woman’s jaw, hormones, vitamin deficiencies, medical conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia, and the most apparent cause, bruxism (teeth grinding).
A second condition, which is far more prevalent in women, is Sjögren’s syndrome. This is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. This leads to dry eyes and dry mouth as the salivary glands and tear ducts are affected, then progresses to other tissues and organs. Dry mouth is actually quite detrimental to oral health. Your saliva is responsible for combating bacteria, as well as keeping the pH level of the mouth at a neutral level as it washes away food particles, assists with chewing and aids in swallowing.
Regular dental visits are crucial with both of these conditions. Your dentist will be able to assess, diagnose, and initiate a treatment plan for your best oral health.
Hormonal Life Stages
As women go through puberty, pregnancy and menopause, their hormones play a significant part in their dental health. The various hormone fluctuations in a woman’s life make it vital to maintain proper oral care. Daily brushing and flossing are of utmost importance throughout these different seasons of womanhood.
During puberty and pregnancy, gingivitis and inflamed gums are very common. Increased hormone levels can exaggerate the way gums react to the irritants in dental plaque, thereby increasing gum sensitivity and causing swelling.
In menopause, dry mouth and bone loss are two areas of concern. Bone loss that occurs in the jaw can put the gums and roots of the teeth in jeopardy. Menopausal women are urged to discuss any issues like these with their dentist, so that preferably, these problems can be addressed before any negative symptoms arise.
Teenage girls suffer from eating disorders more than twice as often as teenage boys. Eating disorders are a life-threatening condition. Every system of the body is negatively affected, including the mouth. Severe food restriction from anorexia most often leads to malnutrition. Teeth and gums need essential vitamins and minerals in order to be healthy. In cases of bulimia, direct harm can be done to the teeth due to repeated exposure to the stomach acid on the teeth through the vomiting associated with binge and purge cycles.
Supporting a loved one who struggles with an eating disorder can be the first step in assisting with their recovery. The chances of recovery are increased the sooner one seeks professional help and treatment. The emotional behaviors associated with eating disorders must be addressed as well as diligent dental care. You and your dentist must work together to preserve and restore good oral health through a customized treatment plan.
Though it seems we have focused on the negative side of women’s oral health, be assured, there is one major advantage females possess: their tendency to better care for their teeth than their male counterparts!
Women are more likely than men to keep up with regularly scheduled dental appointments, brush twice a day, and floss daily. When it comes to tooth pain, women are also less likely than men to just “tough it out” and wait for their next appointment, they will address issues with their dentist as they surface.
These female tendencies mixed with healthy habits greatly reduce the impact of the concerns discussed in our blog today. So, great job, ladies! Let’s keep those mouths healthy!
ALL NEW PARENTS are flooded daily with questions, concerns, and uncertainties regarding how to best care for their new little one. A top concern for most, if not all, parents is whether to breastfeed or bottle feed.
Both options have fervent advocates detailing the superiority of their choice—from the claim that breast milk is more naturally nutritious, to those that cite there is little difference in today’s formula content when so many variations are available on the market, even those that debate the simple convenience of one over the other. As practitioners, we cannot make this decision for you, that choice is always up to you–but, we can help with explaining from a dental standpoint, what the benefits are of each, as well as the effects on your baby’s oral health and development.
We all agree that nutrition for a growing little body is of utmost importance. Here is how each one stacks up, when compared on the basis of nutrition.
Breast milk provides important essential nutrients (those that must be obtained from food or diet, not supplied by the body itself), those nutrients are:
Proteins–like casein, which helps build strong jaw muscles
Fatty acids—which are vital for brain development
Vitamins—such as calcium–that is needed for dental development
One essential component that breast milk is insufficient in is vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for good oral health as well as the absorption of calcium in the body. For this reason, most nursing moms are recommended to continue their prenatal vitamins and/or advised by their caregiver to maintain a healthy diet throughout nursing their baby. As we mature and grow, we absorb vitamin D from sunlight, but with babies that is a risky option, so instead, formula and supplements become a safer alternative. Ensuring these essential nutrients are a part of your baby’s diet is also assisting in reducing tooth decay once those little baby teeth make their appearance.
Facial Growth And Bite
Research has shown that the actual motion of the child’s mouth as they breastfeed helps the development of the baby’s jaw and facial structure more than bottle feeding. Breastfeeding helps give your little one strong jaw muscles and healthy gums, which will help to decrease the potential development of a malocclusion or “bad bite” that would require orthodontic treatment in their teen years.
Breastfeeding And Tooth Decay
It is a common belief that it is only necessary to clean baby’s gums after bottlefeeding because formula tends to linger in the mouth, and when the sugars in the milk are left on the gums and new teeth, decay can begin to form easily. Actually, it is JUST as important to clean your baby’s gums after breastfeeding as well! We also recommend avoiding the possibility of “bottle rot” tooth decay by NEVER putting the baby to bed with a formula or breast milk bottle.
Whether your choice is to bottle feed or breastfeed your baby, it is imperative to start the war against tooth decay as soon as possible. The best way is to use a soft washcloth or gauze to clean any leftover milk or debris from your baby’s gum’s after feedings. Once teething begins and baby’s new teeth emerge, you can start cleaning their teeth with a grain of rice sized amount of toothpaste on a small child-sized toothbrush.
We are Here for YOU!
We are here to answer any questions you may have about your new baby’s dental health, but we are also here for YOU! As new parents, YOUR oral heath is just as important to us!! Call us to today to make an appointment to ensure your best dental health as well as your precious baby’s!!
For all of your family, cosmetic or restorative dental needs, we invite you to contact Paris Family Dental. Call us today to schedule your appointment at (903) 732-0061! Visit us at 2333 Lamar Ave, Paris, TX 75460 to learn more about our team, our practice, and how we provide excellence in dentistry in our area.