The Importance of Oral Care: Women's Hormones and the Risk of Periodontal Disease Progression
"Oral Care" Recommendations for Women: Close Relationship between Female Hormones and Oral Health, with Increased Risk of Periodontal Disease Progression
"Over 70% of people aged 35 and above show some symptoms in their gums. According to the 2016 Survey on Dental Diseases, the percentage of people with periodontal pockets of 4 millimeters or more is highest among those aged 45 to 54," says Dr. Ryo Kofuchi(梁洪淵) (A pharmacist, dentist, and lecturer at the Department of Oral Hygiene, Tsurumi University School of Dentistry.)
As age advances, the oral environment undergoes changes, increasing the risk of severe progression of periodontal disease and tooth loss.
"The oral environment is closely related to female hormones. For example, during menopause, saliva secretion decreases. Saliva moistens the oral cavity, creating an environment that facilitates swallowing of food. Additionally, moisture contributes to the natural cleansing of the oral cavity.
Like the gut, various bacteria exist in the oral cavity. When saliva secretion decreases, the balance of oral bacteria is disrupted, and the self-cleaning mechanism diminishes, making it easier for biofilm, a type of plaque, to adhere. Accumulation of biofilm leads to the progression from gingivitis to periodontitis."
Unlike tooth decay, periodontal disease progresses slowly without causing pain. It often goes unnoticed until it has significantly advanced.
In addition to bleeding gums and bad breath, severe cases can result in tooth loss.
"In such cases, one must consider options like dental implants or dentures. However, in women, after menopause, the jawbone becomes thinner due to decreased bone density, making it difficult to perform implant surgeries in some cases.
When we look at the remaining number of teeth by age group, women have more remaining teeth than men until their 60s, but the number of remaining teeth in women decreases after the age of 75. This is thought to be influenced by bone density."
If there are no existing problems with teeth, oral aging care tends to be neglected. However, Dr. Yoo emphasizes that losing teeth not only affects appearance but also has various other consequences.
"Losing teeth leads to a thinner mouth and the formation of wrinkles and shadows. Additionally, if the condition of teeth is poor, it becomes inconvenient to consume fibrous foods such as vegetables and protein-rich foods like meat. Food is also a source of joy, so being unable to enjoy one's favorite foods has a significant impact on quality of life.
In Japan, the "8020 Movement" aims for individuals to retain at least 20 of their natural teeth by the age of 80. Thanks to this initiative, the number of elderly individuals retaining 20 teeth has increased. This is because they have firmly established the awareness of preserving teeth and take proper care of them.
When one spot on the gums starts to hurt, it often worsens in the surrounding areas, and it takes time to heal, depending on the symptoms and age. Considering that periodontal disease accounts for the majority of cases in individuals aged 45 and above, I believe readers in their 40s need to reassess their oral care habits."
So, what habits should be developed? There are three key points.
- "Thoroughly brush your teeth after every meal." According to statistics in Japan, the majority of people still only brush their teeth in the morning and evening. To prevent the buildup of plaque, which leads to tooth dirt, it is important to brush your teeth after every meal. "Also, reconsider your brushing technique. Many people apply excessive force, so caution is necessary."
- "Have your teeth professionally cleaned every 3 to 6 months." Regular maintenance is crucial for destroying plaque and early detection of periodontal disease.
- "Laugh and talk frequently." To promote saliva secretion, which decreases after menopause, it is important to keep the mouth moving. "The easiest and most effective way is to speak and laugh frequently. Many people who have been wearing masks for an extended period have experienced a decrease in saliva secretion due to reduced movement of the mouth. It's good to be aware of using the facial muscles. Singing has a similar effect."
- Dr. Ryo Kofuchi(梁洪淵),: Pharmacist, dentist, and lecturer at the Department of Oral Hygiene, Tsurumi University School of Dentistry. Engaged in research and clinical work on oral aging from the perspectives of both pharmacy and dentistry. Well-versed in the oral health challenges faced by the menopausal generation.
Reference : Yahoo Japan news (歯周病の重症化リスクも。女性ホルモンと密接に関わる「口腔ケア」のすすめ（Harper’s BAZAAR（ハーパーズ バザー）） - Yahoo!ニュース)
(Note: The translation has been provided to the best, but there may be slight variations or interpretations. Please refer to the original Japanese article for complete accuracy.)