women's oral health

How Do Hormones Affect Women’s Oral Health?

March 8th was International Women’s Day, a wonderful day to celebrate women and raise awareness about the many social, political, and personal challenges that women face. 

Women’s Hormones and Oral Health 

Women are affected by unique health complications, and even those that affect both men and women tend to affect women differently. Did you know that women’s hormones have a substantial impact on women’s oral health? There are five major stages that can affect oral health throughout a woman’s life:

1. Puberty

During puberty, the female body increases the production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones cause changes to the body that can also affect women’s oral health. The hormonal changes can increase blood flow to the gums and even alter the way gum tissue reacts to the bacteria found in plaque. This may lead to tender, red, swollen gums that are more likely to bleed while brushing.

2. Menstruation

During the monthly menstruation cycle, the female body produces more progesterone. This hormone can affect women’s oral health by causing gums that are red and swollen, canker sores, bleeding gums, or swollen salivary glands. It is also possible to develop menstruation gingivitis, which causes swollen, bleeding gums and sores on the inside of the cheeks. Menstruation gingivitis occurs just before a period starts and begins to disappear a few days after the period has started.

3. Birth Control

Oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills, that contain progesterone may cause inflamed gums in those who take them. This is because the body develops an exaggerated reaction to plaque. These hormonal effects on women’s oral health are most noticeable in the first few months after beginning to take birth control pills. It’s important to tell your dentist if you are taking oral contraceptives. If diagnosing an oral issue, your dentist might need to prescribe antibiotics or another medication that may reduce the effectiveness of the birth control pill when taken together. Your dentist needs to know the names and dosages of all medications you take so they can safely and effectively plan any treatment you might need.

4. Pregnancy 

Pregnancy causes significant hormonal changes that can affect women’s oral health. Progesterone levels increase during pregnancy, which can in turn increase a woman’s chances of developing gingivitis. This occurs because the body may become more sensitive to the bacterial plaque in the mouth. This issue is most noticeable between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. Swollen gums that bleed easily are a symptom of what is referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.” To reduce your chance of developing pregnancy gingivitis, you can visit the dentist for professional teeth cleanings more frequently during the second and third trimesters.

5. Menopause

Menopause signifies the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and typically affects those 45 to 55 years old. The hormonal changes experienced throughout the menopausal transition can cause a number of oral health changes in women. Estrogen levels decrease during menopause, which can lead to bone loss in the jaw and receding gums. When going through menopause, a woman may notice changes in taste, increased teeth sensitivity to foods and drinks that are hot or cold, the sensation of a burning mouth, or dry mouth due to decreased saliva production. If you experience persistent dry mouth, consult with your dentist for treatment before it leads to periodontitis.

Teeth Cleanings in Gilbert

The best way to maintain your oral health is to visit your dentist for regular teeth cleanings, brush for two minutes twice a day, floss daily, eat a well-balanced diet, and avoid sweets and snacks as much as possible. No matter your age or gender, we care about your oral health at Lifetime Family Dental. Track any changes in your oral health at any stage of your life and discuss them with your dentist. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/24/2021). Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst