What are hormones?
Think of your body like a busy airport. The planes taking off and landing are the functions you need to live and thrive: digesting food, breathing, heartbeat, etc. There’s a lot going on in there!
The hormones act as chemical “air traffic controllers” regulating and coordinating each of these processes and chemical reactions, keeping everything in balance.
How are hormones like a checkbook?
Many of my younger patients may not even know what a checkbook is, but stick with me here!
You (or maybe your parents) use a checkbook as a ledger recording the money spent and earned. The idea is to keep track of what’s coming in and what’s going out. Your record matches your bank account’s balance when you get a statement in the mail at the end of the month.
When your hormones are out of whack, your body’s checkbook isn’t balanced. Your body’s systems and processes are in disarray, and your health will suffer. Let’s look at a few of the consequences of an unbalanced hormonal checkbook.
Common hormonal imbalances
During pregnancy, hormones get SUPERCHARGED and imbalances become common. When it comes to your dental health, the most common consequence is pregnancy gingivitis. Hormonal imbalances change the chemical makeup of your mouth, making it a more enticing and inviting environment for bacterial growth and infection.
As we’ve talked about before, gum disease can lead to:
- Tooth loss
- Heart disease
- Increased risk of diabetes
If you’re pregnant, don’t miss your regular dental exams. Talk to your dentist and be on the lookout for symptoms of gum disease like:
- Bleeding gums
- Tender or swollen gums
- Unexplained bad breath
Low T (testosterone)
As men age, hormonal imbalances can lead to low levels of testosterone. This most commonly presents as a lack of energy and/or reduced libido (sex drive). However, there’s new research indicating low testosterone may have more serious consequences. Some evidence indicates a lack of testosterone can impede the body’s ability to build or maintain bones and teeth.
Do symptoms like body aches, sleeplessness, sudden weight loss, and fatigue sound familiar? This broad collection of symptoms may be caused by an often misunderstood phenomenon: adrenal fatigue.
The adrenal gland produces many of the hormones your body needs. When the adrenal gland is stressed (often from infection or disease) it may not operate at 100% efficiency. This is also known as Addison’s disease.
Millions of men and women suffer from disorders affecting their thyroid glands. Similar to the adrenal gland, the thyroid is responsible for secreting more of the hormones your body needs. When either underactive or overactive, thyroid disorders can result in:
- Extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Weight fluctuations
- Dry skin
- Insulin resistance
Your dental health can also be compromised by undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disorders. Your dentist may suggest thyroid tests if they notice symptoms like:
- Dry mouth
- Swollen tongue
- Gum disease
Take our 10-question hormone-health self-assessment
Give yourself a point for each question you answer with a YES.
- YES / NO – Have you noticed changes in your physical and/or emotional health?
- YES / NO – Are you lacking the energy you used to have?
- YES / NO – Have you recently gained or lost 10 pounds without changing your diet?
- YES / NO – Are you experiencing low sex drive?
- YES / NO – Is working out more of a chore than it used to be?
- YES / NO – Are you constantly hungry?
- YES / NO – Is insomnia suddenly causing problems in your life?
- YES / NO – Are your gums sore and tender?
- YES / NO – Is stress wearing you down?
- YES / NO – Do you have less interest in your friends and hobbies than you used to?
0 -1 point = Probably nothing to worry about.
2-5 points = Might be worth asking about at your next checkup.
6-10 points = Get checked out right away!
Remember: This shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. You know yourself and your body.
Looking for a dentist who knows hormones?
Dr. Patel is one of San Francisco’s leading dentists, an expert in hormones and their effect on the body, and a best-selling author. She’s known for her holistic approach to health and wellness and deeply understands the profound connection between a healthy mouth, a healthy mind, and a healthy body.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.