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July 17th, 2019

How A Woman’s Hormonal Changes Affect Her Oral Health

As a woman, you go through many changes in your life from puberty to menopause. Each hormonal change affects your body and your oral health. Do you have good oral health or do you feel you need a little extra help from the dentist? Here are some ways your mouth may feel the hormonal changes your body is experiencing and how your dentist can help.

Puberty

When your body begins puberty, it starts to produce extra sex hormones. Estrogen and progesterone send lots more blood to your gums thus sensitivity is increased. This is known as puberty gingivitis and is noticeable by red, swollen gums. Your gums are more likely to bleed during brushing and flossing but this does not mean you should stop. In fact, you need to brush twice a day and floss once daily to maintain a healthy mouth and steer clear of issues arising due to changes in your body. Regular dental cleanings are also essential to avoiding painful, puffed up gums.

Menstruation

It’s that time of the month, your menstrual cycle begins. You are used to this regular occurrence but what you don’t realize is your teeth and gums are affected by this monthly situation. How? Hormonal changes, particularly the increase of progesterone, cause the following oral changes.

  • Swollen gums
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Bleeding gums
  • Canker sores

Will you have these dental issues the entire time during your period? Not typically. Most of these dental problems start a day or two before your period but end shortly after the beginning of your cycle.

Ask your dentist if you are exhibiting signs of menstrual gingivitis or if your dental problems are signs of a different complication. Your dental professional will help take care of the issues you are experiencing. Always inform your dentist about your specific dental concerns.

Birth Control Pills

Do you use birth control pills? You might discover your oral contraceptive is quite literally a pain in your gums. Experiencing inflamed gum tissue is possible with some birth control pills however with newer pills on the market, you are less likely to experience this issue. Levels of estrogen and progesterone in most current oral contraceptives are relatively low and less likely to cause problems with your gums.

It is important to note if you are having a tooth removed, and on the pill, you may be at higher risk for dry socket. Talk to your dentist if you are taking a birth control prescription so they can be fully aware of any complications that may arise and know how to avoid or handle them.

Pregnancy

Are you pregnant? You may begin noticing a large amount of plaque building up on your teeth. Plaque is a major cause of gingivitis. During pregnancy, your increased level of progesterone increases your susceptibility to bacterial plaque. Pregnancy gingivitis causes your gums to bleed and swell easily. Watch for signs of gingivitis especially during your second to the eighth month of pregnancy. How can you avoid this issue? Your dentist may suggest more frequent dental cleanings during your second or early third trimester. Dental cleanings will be customized to suit your hormonal changes during pregnancy, keeping you and your unborn child safe.

Menopause

Changes as a result of menopause can include altered taste, dry mouth, burning sensations in your mouth, and inflamed gums. Estrogen levels decline during menopause which puts you at high risk for bone loss (osteoporosis) and periodontitis. Talk to your dentist about treatments and ways to prevent extreme dental complications due to menopause. You can’t avoid menopause but you can help your teeth and gums live a happy life.

Unfortunately, hormonal changes throughout your life cause you to be more prone to oral health problems. Your dentist knows how to take care of everything inside your mouth to keep you smiling without pain and suffering. Even if your body is going through some serious changes, you can look and feel good. Booking regular dentist appointments can save your teeth from deteriorating and your gums from disappearing.

Dr. Gurshant

Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grewal - a Registered Dentist on July 17th, 2019

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