Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissues throughout the body. Fluctuations in hormone levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care of your oral health.
During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These higher levels increase gum sensitivity to plaque. The gums can become red, swollen and tender. Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. The gums can become red, swollen and tender; bleeding may occur when brushing or flossing. The symptoms will clear up once the period of menstruation has started. Over the years, the amount of sex hormones decrease, so do these problems.
Swelling, bleeding and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones. You must mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to periodontal treatment. This will help eliminate risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives where the effectiveness of the contraceptive can be lessened.
Many women are aware that their gums are affected during pregnancy. There is an ‘old wives tale’ that goes, ‘For every child a tooth is lost’.
Not only do hormonal changes directly effect the gums, but (especially with morning sickness) oral hygiene can suffer. Between the second and eighth month, your gums may also become red or tender and swell. Sometimes an area of swelling may resemble a tumor, which may have to be removed. While the swellings usually disappear after delivery, periodontal pockets may persist, creating chronic problems. Periodontal disease during pregnancy can place a baby’s health at risk. Periodontal health should be part of your prenatal care.
Pay particular attention to performing good oral hygiene and have professional tooth cleaning at three-month intervals until sometime after delivery.
Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur around the menopause. These include feeling pain and burning in your tongue or gum tissue. Even careful oral hygiene practices and professional cleaning may not relieve these symptoms.