Hormones and Oral Health

November 1, 2019
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Did you know hormones play a key part in the health of our mouth?  For many women, this means that it’s important for us to make sure we are paying extra attention to our mouth during these times when our hormones are fluctuating.

During puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy or with certain types of birth control, the hormones in women increase.  This increase in hormones leads to more blood flow into blood vessels in the gums which can cause more inflammation. This increased inflammation means a greater risk of gum disease.  The opposite is true for your hormone levels during menopause.  Although hormones decrease, there is still an impact on your mouth.

Birth Control and Menstrual Cycle Hormones Effects on Oral Health

Certain birth controls can affect wound healing after extracting teeth so be sure to let your dentist know if you are on birth control and what type.

For some women on their period, the increase in hormones leads to more canker sores, small ulcers, forming in their mouths.

Pregnancy Hormones Effects on Oral Health

A large population of pregnant women will experience bleeding gums due to their change in hormones during pregnancy.  This is often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.  Some studies say 75% of pregnant women notice bleeding gums while pregnant and as many as 2 in 5 pregnant women have severe gum disease.  Another issue seen in pregnancy is wearing down of tooth enamel. The fluctuating hormones often lead to morning sickness which can lead to vomiting.  All that acid you throw up can start to erode tooth enamel (the hard, protective layer of your tooth).  A way to prevent this erosion is by not brushing your teeth immediately after throwing up. Instead, rinse your mouth out with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a cup of water.  Wait 30 minutes then brush your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste.  

Menopausal Hormonal Effects on Oral Health

When hormones start decreasing, women can experience pain in their mouth.  This pain or burning sensation is called burning mouth syndrome.  This is described as burning, hot, tingling or a numb sensation and can be found anywhere in the mouth in either one or several locations.  The most common locations are the tip and front two-thirds of the tongue.  Even though we don’t know the cause there are different treatment options that can help, like different medications and even cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Another common condition caused by low hormones is dry mouth.  Dry mouth can cause sore and sensitive gums, ulcers, infections, and lead to chronic cavities.  Drinking plenty of water can help as an over the counter mouth rinses, gels, and toothpastes made for a dry mouth like Biotene.  Also, sugar-free gum and mints can help stimulate the saliva glands.

Knowing these changes occur can aid in the prevention of gum disease and cavities. Be sure to take extra time to brush, floss or see your dentist if you notice any changes in your gums during these times in your life.

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