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Your Hormones & Dental Care

By HERWriter
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Women account for approximately 75 percent of office visits for periodontal care. Part of the unique challenge for women are hormonal changes and how it directly affects gum tissue and bone health. Many times hormonal changes can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms. Below are life stage changes in hormone balance and how it may negatively affect your oral health.

During puberty, an increase in progesterone and estrogen causes more blood circulation to the gums, which may swell and bleed even though you brush and floss regularly at home. Also, during puberty, gum tissue becomes more sensitive, more tender, and easier to irritate. This increased irritation tends to go away as puberty progresses; however, your dentist can certainly help if symptoms become bothersome at this time.

Days before your monthly cycle, you may notice red, swollen/bleeding gums or a sore inside your cheek (or a canker sore around your mouth). Thanks to a boost in progesterone, which dilates blood vessels and increases inflammation, some women experience gingivitis symptoms just before their periods or at ovulation. The good news is that these symptoms frequently clear up once the period starts.

Oral Contraceptives
Swollen or bleeding gums commonly occur in women taking oral contraceptives. If your symptoms become uncomfortable enough to seek your dentist’s help, be sure to let him or her know specifically what medications you’re taking. Some antibiotics that dentists may prescribe for these symptoms actually decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.

A higher level of progesterone can cause exaggerated gingivitis from approximately the second month to the eighth month of pregnancy. Though you take excellent care of your teeth, you may still find that your gums bleed when you brush. For some women, gum tissue becomes so sensitive that an irritant (such as plaque) can make it swell into a large, mostly painless bump (called a pregnancy tumor) that usually goes away within a few months after delivery or can be removed by your dentist if it becomes bothersome.

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What a fascinating post. I had no idea that perimenopausal or menopausal women had special concerns due to hormonal changes. I will have to be more religious about my dental care and especially my dentist visits to get my teeth cleaned and checked (something I've never done well with). Thank you for motivating me (and teaching me something in the meantime!)

December 30, 2009 - 8:12am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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