Throughout a woman’s life, she will experience hormonal changes that will affect her body — including her gums! During times of hormonal change, the chances of periodontal disease often increase.
Periodontal disease is primarily caused by infections and inflammation of the gums and bone. Keep reading to learn more about the many ways that periodontal disease can affect women – and how to protect yourself!
Why does it matter?
Gum disease has been linked to conditions that affect other parts of the body, many of which specifically impact women.
Studies show connections between periodontal disease and problems like breast cancer, pregnancy complications, osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease. Periodontal disease can also contribute to respiratory issues; this is something that’s particularly concerning given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Periodontal health & the female life cycle
When girls go through puberty, an increased level of sex hormones increases blood circulation to the gums, which can cause increased gum sensitivity.
During this time, food particles stuck between your teeth – and even a small amount of plaque buildup – can cause serious irritation to your gums. Keep an eye out for gums that appear swollen or red and/or feel tender.
Some women experience gingivitis during menstruation. This typically occurs right before a woman’s period begins and clears up once it has started. Common symptoms include: bleeding gums, bright red and/or swollen gums, and sores on the inside of the cheek.
Maintaining good dental health before, during, and after pregnancy is extremely important to your overall health. Research shows that pregnant women who don’t take proper care of their oral hygiene can develop what’s known as “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Studies suggest that pregnancy gingivitis can lead to serious issues such as difficulty conceiving, miscarriage, preterm labor, and gestational diabetes. Remember, any infection you experience during pregnancy is cause for concern regarding your baby’s health as well as your own.
If you are currently pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment to help maintain healthy teeth and gums during this important time in your life.
Oral contraceptives & hormonal implants
Oral contraceptives and hormonal implants contain synthetic hormones designed to mimic pregnancy. Therefore, similar to during pregnancy, taking oral contraceptives may put you at higher risk of red, swollen, and tender gums that bleed more easily.
If you’re taking oral contraceptives or have a hormonal implant, it’s important to take proper care of your oral hygiene in order to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
Menopause & post-menopause
Estrogen loss during menopause causes many changes to your overall health, including your oral health; these changes may include dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in your gums or a change in your sense of taste. However, loss of estrogen can also cause a condition called menopausal gingivostomatitis.
Although relatively rare, menopausal gingivostomatitis causes the gums to look dry or shiny, bleed easily, and have unusual coloration ranging from abnormally pale to deep red.
Common FAQs about women & periodontal health
Is periodontal disease more common in women?
No. Although women experience more hormonal change throughout the life cycle compared to men – and any life event that causes changes to hormone levels does make women very vulnerable to gum disease – periodontitis has a documented higher prevalence in men (57%) compared to women (39%).
How do you treat hormonal gingivitis?
Hormonal changes can leave gums and teeth vulnerable to infection. But preventing gum disease is the same for everyone – the best thing you can do to avoid developing periodontal disease is to adopt proper oral hygiene habits:
- Brush and floss after every meal (including snacks).
- Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months.
- Visit your periodontist every 6 months for a cleaning and exam.
Regularly seeing a periodontist helps with the prevention and diagnosis of gum disease, as well as treatment and repair.
What do gums look like with gum disease?
Healthy gums are firm and pink in coloration. Keep an eye out for redness and swelling, gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, and gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth. These are all signs that could indicate gum disease.
Talk to us about improving your gum health
If you’re concerned about your gum health, schedule a cleaning and exam at the Atlanta Center for Advanced Periodontics, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry. Be sure to tell us about any gum and tooth concerns you have, as well as any health changes (like pregnancy) that have happened since you last visited the dentist.
As a periodontal office, we are specially qualified to address gum tissue problems for all patients. We’re here to help you achieve lifelong dental health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment — no referral needed!