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6 October 2023

EFP Perio Talks: Unlocking the secrets of women's oral health across life stages

Categories:Clinical Practice, Communication, Science

The X factor: women's oral health

Pink October, a month also dedicated to awareness on women's health, has begun. In this spirit, EFP Perio Talks Season 2 launches with an enlightening podcast titled, "The X factor: what is unique about women's health?" This episode dives into the often-overlooked realm of women's oral health, exploring the vital importance of periodontal health at the various stages of a woman's life.

Bruno de Carvalho, assisted by Adam Kirtley, EFP Perio Talks producer, interviews two experts: Associate Professor Ali Çekici (Turkey) and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Renee Behrens (UK). Together, they unveil the complex influence of hormonal changes on women's gum health across different life phases, offering valuable insights into puberty, the menstrual cycle, contraceptive use, pregnancy, in vitro fertilisation (IVF), post-menopause, and even transgender health.

Puberty and hormonal changes

Assoc. Prof. Çekici kicks off the discussion by highlighting how puberty marks the beginning of a journey that intertwines hormonal fluctuations and oral health. He explains how gum tissues have oestrogen receptors, making them sensitive to hormonal shifts, albeit usually to a limited extent.

Contraceptives and oral health

Dr Behrens delves into the realm of contraceptives, emphasising the importance of personalised oral health guidance. She discusses how contraceptives can impact gum health and the significance of customising oral hygiene recommendations, down to the choice of toothbrushes and interdental care.

Menstrual cycle and pregnancy

The conversation evolves, touching upon the timing of periodontal treatment during menstrual cycles and pregnancy. Behrens debunks the myth that dental treatments should be avoided during menstruation, advocating for consistent oral hygiene and care. The role of effective plaque removal was highlighted. Discussants explore how pregnancy-related hormonal changes can lead to gum inflammation and enlargement, stressing the need for close collaboration between gynaecologists and dentists. Gestational diabetes and breastfeeding are also discussed.

Interconnected health

This episode also delves into the intricate interplay between oral health and overall well-being. Behrens underscores the importance of healthcare professionals collaborating to understand how oral health can influence systemic conditions. The recognition of the oral microbiome's role in overall health underscores the necessity for interdisciplinary communication. Presenters underscored the importance of tailored oral health advice, timely dental care, and interdisciplinary collaboration in promoting the well-being of women throughout their lives. Both called for improved communication between gynecologists and dental professionals.

Changing the narrative on bleeding

Behrens and Çekici conclude the conversation with an essential message: don't let bleeding gums deter you from seeking dental care. On the contrary, view it as a signal to enhance your oral hygiene practices. Dispelling the stigma surrounding bleeding gums and educating patients about the effectiveness of proper dental care - at all stages of life - is paramount.

Tune in to the inaugural episode of EFP Perio Talks Season 2 to gain a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between women's oral health and hormonal changes across various life stages. The podcast will serve as a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and patients alike.


Listen to the episode