Women’s Hormonal Changes Linked to Gum Disease

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Even though men are more likely to have periodontal (gum) disease than women, a woman’s hormonal changes have been linked to periodontal disease.

Today we’re explaining these connections, which exist in several phases of women’s lives.

First, let’s explain why there is a connection between hormones and oral health. Hormones affect the blood supply to your gum tissue, as well as your body’s response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque buildup, according to WebMD. As a result of these changes, women are more susceptible to gum disease at particular points in their lives.  

The first life stage in which hormone levels can affect a female’s gum health is during puberty. This is a point in life when estrogen and progesterone production ramp up. This can increase blood flow to the gums and alter the way gum tissue reacts to irritants in plaque. The end result can be red, tender, swollen gum tissue that is more likely to bleed when you brush and floss your teeth.

Another stage where hormones can interfere with your gum health is during menstruation. Some women experience “menstruation gingivitis” in the days leading up to their period. This condition is marked by swollen, red, bleeding gums, and goes away after their period.

We devoted an entire post last year to pregnancy and periodontal disease[LW1] , but in a nutshell, you should undergo a periodontal evaluation during your pregnancy. Women who have periodontal disease while they’re pregnant are more likely to have premature, low birth weight babies.

The final stage in which hormones can affect your oral health is during menopause and post-menopause. This is a common time for women to witness changes in their mouths. Symptoms can include dry mouth, painful burning sensations in the gums, and an altered sense of taste.

A condition known as “menopausal gingivostomatitis” affects a small percentage of women. “Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red mark this condition,” according to the American Academy of Periodontology. “Most women find that estrogen supplements help to relieve these symptoms.”

The Bright Side

There is a bright side to this hormone/gum disease connection. Maintaining routine dental visits at least every six months, in addition to keeping up a good home care routine of brushing and flossing, goes a long way toward promoting oral health and preventing gum disease.

While visiting the dentist used to be discouraged during pregnancy, times have changed. Here at our San Francisco dentistry practice, we want to see you if you are pregnant so we can identify whether you exhibit signs of periodontal disease.

Whether your hormones are at fault, or your periodontal disease is attributed to a genetic predisposition or other risk factors, Dr. Robert Walley can help you get it treated and under control. Maintaining healthy gums increases your chances of keeping your teeth healthy and your smile bright for a long time.

Please contact us today if you would like to schedule an appointment.

 [LW1]This should link to our previous post on the topic.