As hormonal changes occur during puberty, menstruation, taking oral contraceptives, pregnancy, and menopause, the likelihood of periodontal disease increases. The following describes each of these changes in more detail with relation to oral health:
Puberty - During this period of time, there is an increased amount of sex hormone production. High levels of sex hormones increase gum sensitivity and oral irritations due to plaque and food debris. In turn, the gums become swollen, red and feel tender.
Menstruation - There is also an increased amount of sex hormone production during this period of time. This typically occurs several days before actual menstruation. A female may experience bleeding gums, red swelling between the teeth and gum, as wells as sores on the inside of the cheek. These symptoms usually subside once the menstruation begins because as the amount of sex hormones decrease, so do these symptoms.
Pregnancy - Between the second and eight month of pregnancy, a woman may experience bleeding, swelling and tender gum tissue. Large bumps may appear on the gum tissue as a reaction to local irritants. These growths are known as pregnancy tumors and are usually painless, benign and disappear after pregnancy. Any infections during pregnancy can increase health risks for the baby. Therefore, it is imperative to have good periodontal health in order to avoid periodontal infections. Periodontal infections during pregnancy increase the risk for delivering a premature, low birth weight baby.
Oral contraceptives - The synthetic hormones in oral contraceptives are designed to mimic pregnancy, therefore similar symptoms occur such as swelling, bleeding and tender gum tissue. It is important to tell your dental professional if you are taking an oral contraceptive.
Menopause - Along with many other biological changes that occur during menopause, changes in the look and feel of the mouth are common. A female may experience pain and or burning sensations in the gum tissue, as well as altered taste, especially salty, peppery or sour taste.
All of these changes affect a woman’s oral health. Proper oral hygiene and professional care all aide in minimizing the hormonal manifestations of the mouth.
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