The Oral Health of Women

***UPDATED: June 10, 2014*** Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have stumbled upon a new discovery, further linking the hormones in women to oral health.  The study that is responsible for the finding is aimed at investigating new methods of renewable energy recovery, according to a Dental Tribune article. Through their work, they found that saliva-powered microcells produce enough energy to run lab-on-a-chip diagnostic devices, meaning they may be used for several medical purposes, including detecting ovulation in women. According to researchers, the conductivity of saliva decreases significantly in the days leading up to ovulation due to hormonal changes, allowing a simple mouth swab to help determine the fertility period of a woman. The microcells may also have possible applications in the glucose monitoring of diabetes patients.

As if dealing with the well known symptoms of menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause weren’t enough, a new study has linked female hormones with gum disease.  Charlene Krejci, associate clinical professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, in Cleveland, scoured countless journal articles and studies to make the connection.  According to the Medical News Today article, “Women’s Hormones Now Associated With Gum Disease,” the fluctuation of hormones over a lifetime can create an environment in the mouth that is conducive to bacteria growth, which can lead to more serious health issues, such as bone loss, pre-term births, and even fetal death.

Krejci reviewed almost 100 studies and 61 journal articles to draw her conclusion.  She claims that there is definitely a connection between women’s hormones, gum disease, and other health issues.  Furthermore, she stated that although women tend to make more of an effort with their oral health than men, they need to be even more on-the-ball about maintaining healthy teeth and gums.  Krejci recommends brushing and flossing daily as well as visiting the dentist at least every six months and addressing any and all gum problems immediately.  At one point in time, visiting the dentist while pregnant was not recommended, but those days are long gone, as many treatments are now safe during this time.

Unfortunately for women, the need to visit the dentist is great, while statistics show that middle-aged females are the most common demographic to experience dental phobia and anxiety.  Fear of the pain associated with the dentist keeps many people from making the recommended bi-annual trip, but experts agree, putting off regular check-ups often leads to more serious dental issues, which will require more treatments if left unchecked.  Thankfully, with the development of sedation dentistry, many who suffer from this common phobia can experience a relaxing and virtually pain-free experience.

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