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Women’s Hormonal Changes Increase Risk of Gum Disease

Aug 07, 2014

By Dean George

Female hormonal changes may increase the risk of periodontal disease, according to numerous clinical studies.

For years dentists have warned all of us about the importance of taking care of our teeth and gums, but growing evidence indicates that women in particular are more prone to developing periodontal disease and other oral health issues at certain stages of their lives.

Hormone fluctuations may not only affect the blood supply to gum tissue, but may also influence how a woman’s body responds to toxins resulting from plaque buildup.

WebMD says there are five life situations in which hormonal changes make women more susceptible to oral health problems:

Pregnancy – “pregnancy gingivitis” can occur any time during the second to eighth month of pregnancy due to hormonal changes increasing the level of progesterone. Consult your dentist if you are pregnant and ask if they recommend more frequent cleanings to lessen the chance of gingivitis.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has stressed the importance of good oral health during pregnancy because women suffering from advanced periodontal disease could deliver a pre-term baby or low birth weight baby. Also, as Dental Wire has previously reported, periodontal disease can also affect the time it takes to get pregnant by as much as two months.

Birth Control Pills – some birth control pills contain progesterone, which may cause inflamed gums. Women taking an oral contraceptive should tell their dentist.

Puberty – during puberty gum tissue may become red, swollen and tender when brushing and flossing due to a surge in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Menstrual Cycles – during their monthly menstrual cycle some women may experience a temporary condition known as “menstruation gingivitis.” This condition may result in bleeding gums, canker sores, swollen salivary glands or red swollen gums due to hormonal changes, especially an increase in progesterone. This usually clears up shortly after the cycle begins.

Menopause – the decline in estrogen during menopause can affect bone density. This can lead to bone loss in the jaw, which can cause tooth loss. Agent Straight-Talk has also reported that some medications taken can often cause other oral changes such as dry mouth. Because saliva is not produced in the necessary amounts to cleanse the mouth of harmful acids, this can lead to the onset of cavities and gum disease. Hormonal changes during menopause can also alter taste, increase sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, and cause burning sensations in the mouth.

Fortunately, a 2011 study by the American Dental Association noted that women are twice as likely as men to schedule regular dental check-ups and follow up on a recommended course of treatment.  

Sources: WebMD,,
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