Hormones Bad Breath: What's the Connection?

Everyone experiences a bout of bad breath every now and again. From a long night's sleep to a garlicky meal, there are plenty of reasons why your breath might not be as fresh as you'd like. But if you're struggling with chronic bad breath, it might be your hormones causing the issue. Women are especially prone to this hormones bad breath connection, and it could be cause for a visit to both the doctor and the dentist. Read on to learn if any of these symptoms sound familiar and how you can deal with hormone-related bad breath.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women experience a distinct shift in their hormone balance throughout a pregnancy. There's a connection between pregnant women and an increased instance of gum disease. Gum disease is a leading cause of – you guessed it – bad breath, thanks to the bacteria and decay it causes. It's hypothesized that pregnancy hormones change the way the body reacts to bacteria, which may explain increased bad breath and risk of gum disease.

Menopause

Women entering menopause experience a lack of estrogen, resulting in unpleasant side effects such as hot flashes and mood swings. But another key side effect that can affect your oral health is dry mouth. Many menopausal women complain of dryness, a condition which leaves your mouth ripe for bacteria to develop and grow, causing bad breath.

Hormonal Birth Control

If you take a form of hormonal birth control, you're elevating the levels of certain hormones – estrogen and progestin – in your body in order to prevent pregnancy. The American Academy of Periodontology warned that some medications – and specifically oral contraceptives – can affect your oral health by changing the way your body reacts to bacteria and increasing your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. If you've recently started or changed your birth control, it may be the culprit behind your bad breath.

What to Do

If you notice that a change in your hormones has resulted in bad breath, you may need to schedule visits to both your primary care physician and your dentist.

  • If you're pregnant, continue to schedule regular dental checkups. While dental work was once discouraged for pregnant women, modern medicine proves that regular cleanings can help pregnant women stay healthy and avoid some dangers of gum disease, including bad breath, gum disease and even pre-term labor. Make sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your OB/GYN.
  • If you're menopausal, talk to your doctor about hormone therapies to help manage some unpleasant side effects of menopause. Synthetic versions of hormones can be administered to help your body get back into balance.
  • If you're taking hormonal contraceptives, continue your oral health care routine regardless of the cause of your bad breath, though you should check in with your prescribing doctor to inform them of your side effects. Brushing twice daily and using a mouthwash helps to kill the bacteria that can feed off of hormonal changes and result in tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.

The hormones bad breath connection is just another way that good oral health can benefit your entire body. By setting up a consistent hygiene habit, you'll make sure that no matter the changes in your hormones, you'll continue to have a healthy mouth and great smile.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.