The hormones present at the various stages of a woman’s life can affect their oral health. Your dental hygienist can help you learn more about keeping your gums and teeth healthy throughout your entire life.

Puberty – The increase in hormones present during puberty can increase the gum’s blood circulation. As a result, the gum tissues may become more sensitive to biofilm (plaque), food particles and calculus. Early signs of gingivitis (gum disease) such as bleeding when brushing may be evident. Proper oral care habits are important as well regular visits with your dental health professional.

Menstruation – Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums may be experienced during menstruation. There is an increase in the level of a hormone, progesterone, in your system just before your period begins. As a result, your gums may become more sensitive to food particles, biofilm or calculus. Some women may experience sores or bleeding in the mouth three or four days before their period begins. This type of gingivitis usually clears up once her period has started. Women prone to this inflammation should be sure to develop excellent oral care habits and visit their dental hygienist regularly.

Pregnancy – It is especially important to look after your teeth and gums during pregnancy. The many changes in hormone levels (increased levels of estrogen and progesterone) may result in the gums becoming very sensitive to the biofilm on the teeth. Pregnancy hormones tend to exaggerate the body’s normal response to dental biofilm. Most commonly, women experience increased gingivitis in the second or third month of the pregnancy, through until the eighth month. This condition, called pregnancy gingivitis, is marked by an increased amount of swelling, bleeding and redness in the gum tissue in response to a very small amount of biofilm or calculus.
Some studies have suggested the possibility that pregnant women who have periodontal (gum) disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. However, more research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. All infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a potential risk to the health of the baby. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that women considering pregnancy have a periodontal evaluation prior to becoming pregnant or once she becomes pregnant. It is always important to see your dental hygienist for routine preventive care and especially important if you are pregnant and/or considering pregnancy.

Breastfeeding and Dental Health – Six things nursing moms should know about dental health from the American Dental Association. Click here.

Oral Contraceptives – Birth control pills, or “the pill” contain hormones, just like the body produces when you are pregnant. For this reason, women taking oral contraceptives may experience the same oral symptoms as pregnant women. This may include swelling, bleeding and redness in the gum tissue in response to a very small amount of biofilm or calculus.

Be sure to let your dental health professional know if you are taking oral contraceptives. Together you can develop a daily oral care plan and choose professional treatments that will help keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Menopause – As the level of hormones present in the blood change during menopause, women may experience changes to their oral health. Symptoms may include soreness or a burning sensation, changes in taste perception, and dry or bleeding gums. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to discuss these with your physician and dental health professional. Often medications, in combination with proper oral care habits and professional dental care, can reduce or eliminate these symptoms.