The Influence of Hormones on Oral Health

Although statistics claim that women tend to take better care of their oral hygiene, hormonal changes that intervene during their lifetime can affect the condition of their oral health, by making them more prone to periodontal disease and other mouth conditions. Of course, pregnancy itself cannot cause tooth loss; however, pregnant women often notice some level of gum bleeding during the brushing process, and this bleeding may appear irrespective of how they brush.

What are the stages in which a woman becomes more susceptible to oral health issues as a result of hormone fluctuations?

  • Puberty. Estrogen and progesterone production may increase the blood circulation in the gums; if the gums become tender, patients tend to procrastinate brushing and flossing, thus leading to oral health problems.
  • Menstruation. The significant increase in progesterone during the menstrual cycle can cause oral symptoms very similar to gingivitis, which only last for few days: gum inflammation and bleeding, swelling of the salivary glands, canker sores, etc.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnant women experience a variety of severe hormonal changes. Progesterone may make pregnant women more susceptible to plaque and gingivitis. Unfortunately, certain old wives’ tales say in-office dental treatments should be a taboo during pregnancy. We recommend more frequent professional cleaning to our pregnant patients in order to stay on the safe side, which is particularly important for the health of both the mother and the baby.
  • Use of contraceptives (birth control pills). Women who are on the pill often complain about having some gum inflammation. This symptom occurs as a result of the exaggerated reaction of the body to the toxins present in dental plaque. Always tell your dentist if you are on the pill, especially if he or she needs to prescribe medication to treat your dental condition.
  • Menopause. Hormonal changes that occur during menopause are comparable in intensity to those occurring during puberty. Women complain about a variety of symptoms: burning sensation in the mouth, sensitive teeth, dry mouth, altered taste, etc. Among these symptoms, the decrease in salivary flow is perhaps the most challenging for a woman’s oral health. Another significant symptom associated with menopause is bone loss, while bone loss in the jaw can lead to tooth loss. If you experience receding gums, please be aware that this may be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. You can always discuss the options of estrogen therapy with your personal health care provider.

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