Gum Disease: Age and Gender

Posted .

While everyone is vulnerable to gum disease — men, women and children — research has shown that men tend to have a higher risk of gum disease. Why? Perhaps because they are not seeing a dentist regularly or are not as consistent with good oral hygiene habits.

Dr. Anne Nicholas and her team of specialists want to make sure that you understand the serious nature of gum disease and how it pertains to age and gender, so let’s take a closer look at periodontitis in men, women and children.

As children enter puberty, they are producing progesterone, which causes an increased circulation of blood flow to the gums. This blood flow may invite sensitivity and irritation that arises from left-behind plaque and food particles. For this reason, consistently good oral hygiene is crucial to prevent gum disease.

Children may notice that their gums are increasingly tender, swelling and bleeding easily or appearing redder than usual. Teens and young adults are also susceptible to aggressive periodontitis. This form of gum disease typically manifests around the primary molars or incisors. Aggressive periodontitis affects the alveolar bone, which can eventually become vulnerable to bone loss. This can start around puberty, and the gums can become inflamed and the teeth gradually become loose.

Times in a woman’s life when gum sensitivity may increase are the result of hormonal shifts, such as those experienced during her monthly cycle, pregnancy and menopause. During this period, the gums may bleed easily and become red, tender and swollen. These symptoms can flare up during the days leading up to a woman’s cycle but dissipate once the cycle begins.

Gum disease during pregnancy, or “pregnancy gingivitis,” places you at greater risk of having a premature birth, and consequently, a lower birth weight baby. This is not the time to skip scheduled professional cleanings and checkups with Dr. Nicholas and her team of specialists.

For women who are menopausal or older, changes in the gums may be noticeable. These changes occur due to fluctuating estrogen levels in the body. Estrogen can impact a variety of oral tissues, such as the gums, salivary glands and even the jawbone. You may notice a reduction in saliva production, which leads to dry mouth, pain in the gums, a burning tongue, tooth loss and altered taste buds. This means you might experience a change in your sour or salty preferences, or you may not be able to taste sweet things as easily.

Unfortunately, almost twice as many men suffer from gum disease than women. Whether that fact is due to not getting regular teeth cleanings or a neglect of daily oral hygiene, men are often more beset by plaque, tartar and finding themselves with bleeding gums.

Men with prostate inflammation often have more problems with their gums and vice versa. In addition, there is an increased link to heart disease when you have periodontal disease, which makes sense because cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease involve chronic inflammation.

But it’s not just the prostate and the heart that are affected by periodontal disease. Research indicates that cancer is also more common in men with unhealthy gums. Kidney cancer, cancer of the pancreas and blood cancers are also prevalent in men with periodontal disease.

No matter what category you fit into, be sure to attend your biannual dental visits for an exam and cleaning. If you need further treatment, Dr. Nicholas and her team of specialists are here to help. Please call us today at 760-851-0314 or visit our dental office in Palm Desert, California. We proudly serve Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and the surrounding areas of the Coachella Valley at the Palm Desert.