Women and Periodontal Health
Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes exert profound effects on their body. Major fluctuations in hormonal levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. These times are marked by an increase in the development of periodontal disease. Women during these stages of life require special periodontal specialty monitoring and care.
Puberty is highlighted by an increased production of sex hormones. Higher hormone levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritation from plaque and food particles. Without effective preventive care, gums during this stage of life tend to become swollen, red, and tender.
Certain women dependent upon the severity of their periods may develop gum tenderness several days before menstruation. Bleeding gums, bright red swelling between the teeth and gums, or sores on the inside of the cheeks may occur. Although these symptoms may clear up once a period has started, such a condition tends to indicate underlying gum disease that requires attention.
Unquestionably, the hormonal effects brought on by pregnancy have a profound impact on a women’s health. It has been well established that increases in estrogen levels cause a shift to a more disease causing (pathogenic) oral bacterial eco system. Women who are pregnant or on the pill, represent a population at risk who require improved levels of professional care. Dr. Novack has developed a Periodontal Supportive Maintenance Program specific for women who are pregnant or taking oral contraceptives.
Between the second and eighth months of pregnancy with a rise in estrogen levels, gums tend to swell, bleed and become red and tender. Large lumps (Pyogenic Granulomas) may develop as a reaction to local irritants. These growths although not cancerous do require professional evaluation and possibly removal. Periodontal specialty care should be an integral part of your prenatal care. Any infections during pregnancy including periodontal infections can place your baby’s health at risk. For more information, please refer to the section on our website labeled Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease under the Mouth-Body Connection tab.
Oral contraceptives are designed to mimic pregnancy. As such, the effects on a woman’s gums and periodontal health as a result of the increased levels of hormones mirror those seen in pregnant women, although at a reduced level.
It is important to advise Dr. Novack of all prescriptions you are currently taking including oral contraceptives prior to commencing periodontal treatment. This will help minimize the risk of drug interactions. In particular, it is known that antibiotics may lessen the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.
Changes in the look and feel of a women’s mouth tend to occur during and post menopause. These include pain, a sensation of burning gums, salty, peppery or sour tastes and a dry mouth. Effective oral hygiene and Periodontal Supportive Maintenance Care have been shown to relieve these symptoms. Dr. Novack may also recommend a saliva substitute to treat the effects of a dry mouth.