When we think about hormonal changes, we tend to associate them solely with women and their reproductive health. While what’s true, and often overlooked, is that men undergo hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives as well, and these changes can have a significant impact on their oral health. We also need to consider the fact that these changes occur through different phases of a man’s life, starting from his adolescence through andropause in his middle age. Understanding the connection between the hormonal changes is crucial for maintaining good oral health and that winning smile.
The first major hormonal shift in a man’s life occurs during puberty. Testosterone levels rise, leading to various physical and emotional changes. During this time, an increase in hormones can affect oral health in several ways:
·Gum sensitivity: Hormonal changes can make the gums more sensitive, making them more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. This can increase the risk of gum disease if proper oral hygiene is not maintained.
·Excess plaque: Hormonal shifts can lead to increased production of plaque, the sticky film of bacteria on teeth. This can result in a higher likelihood of cavities and gum issues.
·Mouth sores: Hormonal changes may also cause the development of mouth sores, which can be painful and affect overall oral health.
As men move into adulthood, factors such as stress, ageing and certain medical conditions can affect hormone levels.
·Stress: Stress can lead to hormonal imbalances, which can, in turn, affect oral health. It may result in teeth grinding (bruxism) and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
·Ageing: As men age, testosterone levels may decline. This can lead to bone loss in the jaw, contributing to tooth loss and gum recession. It's important to consider preventive measures like regular dental check-ups.
·Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also influence hormone levels. Diabetic individuals are known to be at a higher risk of contracting gum disease.
Often referred to as “male menopause”, andropause typically occurs in middle-aged men. This phase is characterized by a decline in testosterone levels. Hormonal changes during andropause can have oral health implications:
·Dry mouth: Reduced saliva production is a common symptom of andropause. Saliva is essential for maintaining oral health as it helps wash away bacteria and protect the teeth. A dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.
·Bone density: Lower testosterone levels during andropause can lead to decreased bone density. This includes the jawbone, which may result in tooth loss and increased susceptibility to oral health issues.
·Gum disease: Hormonal imbalances can lead to an increased risk of gum disease. It’s vital for men going through andropause to pay extra attention to their oral hygiene routine.
Steps to maintain oral health
Regardless of the life stage, men experiencing hormonal changes can take several steps to ensure good oral health:
·Regular dental check-ups: Schedule regular dental check-ups to monitor and address any oral health issues early.
·Oral hygiene: Maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine, including brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.
·Healthy lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and avoid smoking or excessive alcohol consumption to support oral and overall health.
·Stress management: Practice stress management techniques to reduce the impact of stress-related oral health issues.
·Consult a healthcare professional: If you suspect hormonal changes are affecting your oral health, consult with a dentist for guidance and potential treatment options.
Dr. Parampreet Kohli is the founder of Smile Couture Dental Clinic in Mumbai.