Women and Periodontal Health
Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in hormonal levels occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase and require special care.
During puberty, there is an increased production of sex hormones. These higher hormone levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritation from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. Bleeding of the gums, bright red swelling between the teeth, and gum or sores on the inside of the cheek may occur. These symptoms generally clear up once the cycle has started.
Your teeth and gums are also affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth months, gums may also swell, bleed and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants, however, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal but usually disappear sometime after delivery. Periodontal health practices should be part of your prenatal care. Any infections during pregnancy, including periodontal infections, can place a baby’s health at risk.
Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones. You should always mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives which lessens the effectiveness of the contraceptive.
Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. They can include feeling pain or burning of the gum tissue, salty, peppery or sour taste and dry mouth. Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleanings may relieve these symptoms. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of dry mouth.
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