Periodontal Disease and Women's Health

 

A woman’s periodontal health may be impacted by a variety of factors.
 
Puberty

 

During puberty, an increased level of sex hormones, such as progesterone and possibly estrogen, causes increased blood circulation to the gums.  During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel tender.  This will often diminish or resolve after puberty is complete.

 

Menstruation

 

Occasionally, some women experience menstruation gingivitis. Women with this condition may experience bleeding gums, bright red and swollen gums and sores on the inside of the cheek. Menstruation gingivitis typically occurs right before a woman's period and clears up once her period has started.

 

Pregnancy

 

Some studies have shown that pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. It is possible that bacteria in the mouth that contribute to the development of periodontal disease may pose a hazard to the developing fetus.  The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that women who are considering becoming pregnant have a periodontal evaluation.

 

Menopause

 

Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may experience changes in their mouths, including dryness, pain or burning sensation and alteration of taste.  This may be particularly apparent with foods heavy in salt, pepper or sour flavors. 

 

A small number of women may experience menopausal gingivostomatitis which may cause the gums to look shiny or dry and bleed easily. Estrogen supplements are often an effective means for treating this condition.