Women have several hormonal changes through their life. These hormones affect tissues in the body, including periodontal tissues. During puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and while on oral contraceptives, hormone levels fluctuate. The chance of developing periodontal disease in women increases during these times of hormonal imbalance and tissue sensitivity.


Sex hormones that develop during puberty increase blood circulation throughout the body. The increase of blood in gum tissue leads to greater sensitivity and reaction to irritants such as plaque and tartar. That means that youth going through puberty are more susceptible to swelling and development of periodontal disease and should pay close attention to their oral care.


In rare circumstances, women may suffer from menstruation gingivitis. Before menstruation begins, the woman may have red, swollen, or bleeding gums, or sores on the inside of their cheeks. Symptoms typically clear up once menstruation starts.


Infections of any kind are to be closely monitored while pregnant because they are a risk to the baby’s health. Although the connection is not yet fully understood, periodontal infections may increase the odds of having a premature birth or undersized baby. During the second and eighth month of pregnancy, gums may become sensitive and more prone to swelling and bleeding. In some cases, periodontal irritants can create lumps (generally painless and non-cancerous) that disappear after pregnancy or require professional removal. It is important to maintain periodontal health during pregnancy. Frequent periodontal checkups to monitor these conditions, good oral hygiene and monitoring will help achieve periodontal health. Periodontal problems and periodontal disease in women should be evaluated and treated before pregnancy.


Oral contraceptives are synthetic hormones. Like natural hormones, they can affect the sensitivity of the gums, leading to swelling, bleeding, and heightened reaction to irritants. It is important to inform doctors of any current medications, so they can eliminate the risk of drug interactions. Antibiotics, for example, impair the effectiveness of the contraceptives.


During menopause or after menopause, women may feel changes in their mouth. There may be increased pain and burning around the gums, dry mouth, and altered taste (salt, pepper, and sour). If at-home oral care is not able to relieve these symptoms, professional cleaning may be required. In rare cases, women develop menopausal gingivostomatitis, showing as dry or shiny gums that bleed easily and turn pale or deep red. Often, estrogen supplements can cure women of these symptoms.

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