As a woman, why do I have to worry about oral health?
Everyone needs to take care of their oral health. But female hormones can lead to an increase in some problems, such as:
•Cold sores and canker sores
•Changes in taste
•Higher risk of gum disease
Cold sores are small, painful sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. Once you are exposed to the virus, it can hide in your body for years. Things that trigger the virus and lead to cold sores include:
•Getting too much sun
•Having a cold or infection
•Having your period
Cold sores can spread from person to person. They most often form on the lips and sometimes under the nose or chin. The sores heal in about 7 to 10 days without scarring. You can buy over-the-counter drugs to put on cold sores to help relieve pain. If you get cold sores a lot, talk with your doctor or dentist about a prescription for an antiviral drug. These drugs can help reduce healing time and the number of new sores.
Canker sores are small ulcers inside the mouth. They have a white or gray base and a red border. Women are more likely than men to have canker sores that recur. The cause of canker sores is unknown. Risk factors include:
•Having your period
•A cut on the inside of your cheek or on your tongue
Canker sores most often heal on their own in one to three weeks. See your dentist if you get a large sore (larger than a half inch, or about the size of a dime). You may need medicine prescribed to treat it.
To help with pain:
•Avoid hot, spicy foods
•Use mild mouthwashes or salt water
•Try over-the-counter pain medicines
No proven way exists to prevent canker sores. If you get them often, talk with your dentist.
Another issue women experience is burning mouth. It is most common in postmenopausal women. Women with this condition describe a burning feeling in the mouth or tongue. Unfortunately, the cause is unknown, but given that it occurs in the mouth, it might be linked to:
•Dry mouth (which can be caused by many medicines and disorders such as Sjögren’s syndrome or diabetes)
•Use of ACE inhibitors (blood pressure medicines)
•Anxiety and depression
•Dentures that do not fit
•Infections (especially fungal infections)
Talk to your doctor or dentist if you have burning mouth. Treatment depends on the cause — if it can be determined — and might include adjusting your dentures, vitamin supplements, or pain or other medicines or referring back to physician for a global diagnosis.
Taking good care of your teeth and gums can help you avoid or lessen these oral health problems. If we can be of service, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
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