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Exploring the Impact of Oral Health on Women’s Well-Being

Apr 29, 2024 06:35AM ● By Kristen Graham, DDS
A pregnant woman sitting in a dentist chair talking with her dentist and dental hygentist.


Oral health is not just about maintaining a sparkling smile; it’s intricately linked to overall well-being, especially in women. From hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy to systemic conditions like periodontal disease, the health of the mouth can significantly influence various aspects of a woman’s health.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to a host of oral health issues. Elevated progesterone levels, for instance, can exacerbate gingivitis, leading to swollen, tender gums prone to bleeding. This condition, commonly known as pregnancy gingivitis, affects a significant portion of pregnant women and underscores the importance of regular dental checkups during this crucial period. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight.
Fortunately, the use of mercury-containing dental amalgams has significantly declined over the past few years. Research suggests that exposure to mercury vapor from amalgam fillings, especially during placement and removal, may pose risks to fetal development (mercury from amalgams even shows up in breast milk). Since removing mercury fillings is not recommended during pregnancy, we suggest having your amalgams safely removed as soon as possible if you are thinking of becoming pregnant.
Fluoride, a common ingredient in toothpaste and drinking water, should also be avoided. Ingesting of fluoride has not been shown to prevent tooth decay, and high levels of fluoride have been associated with adverse neuro-developmental effects in babies. A good biological dentist can offer numerous other strategies to ensure a decay-free mouth.
Beyond pregnancy, periodontal disease presents a significant concern for women’s overall health. Research has shown a link between periodontal disease and various systemic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The chronic inflammation associated with periodontitis may exacerbate existing health conditions or increase the risk of developing them.
Finally, one of the most overlooked problems contributing to a woman’s health is a condition known as upper airway resistance syndrome. Even a slight increased resistance to airflow (think of it as a very mild form of sleep apnea) puts the body into a “fight-or-flight” state. This results in increased cortisol and prevents the body (and brain) from getting proper restorative sleep. We now know that clenching and grinding are mechanisms the body uses to try to keep the airway open. It is unfortunate more doctors are not aware of this connection, since we now understand the adverse impact airway issues can have on health.
Oral health is a critical component of women’s overall well-being, with far-reaching implications for maternal and fetal health during pregnancy and beyond. Hormonal changes, dental materials, fluoride exposure, periodontal disease and sleep-related disorders underscore the complex interplay between oral health and systemic health outcomes in women. By prioritizing preventive dental care and addressing oral health issues promptly, women can optimize their overall health and quality of life at every stage of life.

Dr. Kristen Graham graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 2013. She is a member of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (SMART certified in safe mercury removal) and achieved her naturopathic dentist certification with the American College of Integrative Medicine and Dentistry in 2017. Graham is very passionate about holistic approaches and getting to the root of the symptoms. She has a heart for helping children and adults. She is also currently on the board of Children’s Health Defense AZ chapter. In her free time, she loves to be in nature, in fellowship or spending time with her family. To schedule an appointment with Graham, call Natural Dental Partners at 602-775-5120. Location: 6930 E. Chauncey Ln., Ste. 100, Phoenix. For more information on services offered, visit and