Hormonal changes are a fact of life and necessary for the daily functioning of our bodies. Although many hormonal changes are healthy and normal, they can impact gum health by increasing the risk of gum disease. During times of significant hormonal changes, dental care from the Dental Associates of New England can help protect gum health and keep the smile at its best. Let's take a closer look at the link between poor gum health and hormonal changes in this overview from our Boston, MA team of dentists.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals created by different glands within the body. Hormones help regulate behavior, mood, and bodily functions. The type and amount of each hormone within the body changes regularly and more so during certain life events, such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or even stress.
How Do Hormones Affect the Gums?
A common side effect of some hormonal changes is an increased risk of gum disease. Scientists believe this is because hormones can affect how the body responds to the toxins released from bacteria found in plaque buildup and hormones can cause increased blood flow to the gum tissues. Both a changed response to toxins and increased blood flow may lead to gum inflammation and interfere with the gum's ability to fight infection.
Common Hormonal Changes that Can Impact Gum Health
Women typically experience more hormonal changes throughout their lives than most men. This is largely due to the hormonal changes associated with a woman's reproductive cycle, including menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. As such, women are more likely to experience gum health issues related to hormonal changes than men. Some common hormonal changes linked to poor gum health include:
- Puberty: Hormonal changes experienced during puberty can cause males and females to experience gum health issues, including swollen gums, bleeding when brushing or flossing, and other symptoms associated with gum disease.
- Menstruation: Hormonal changes are necessary to trigger a woman's menstrual cycle. One hormone in particular, called progesterone, plays a major role at this time and is closely linked to gum swelling or bleeding. Hormonal changes around menstruation can also cause the salivary gland to swell, resulting in decreased saliva, which in turn further increases the risk of gum disease.
- Taking birth control pills: Birth control pills contain hormones to regulate a woman's menstrual cycle and help prevent pregnancy. This increases the levels of hormones within a woman's body, increasing factors that can raise the risk of poor gum health.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy causes significant hormonal changes. These changes greatly increase the risk of gum disease and are most significant during the second and third trimester. Pregnant women should take extra care with their oral hygiene to prevent gum disease.
- Menopause: Menopause can make it difficult for a woman's body to regulate the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This can cause women undergoing menopause to develop dry mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease and other oral health issues.
Schedule a Consultation
Practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental care are essential for protecting the gums and teeth from hormonal changes and other threats to oral health. Treatment from the Dental Associates of New England can help your smile to stay healthy and beautiful for years to come. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation.