The Effect of Hormones on Your Oral Health

ID-100172221Portland dentist Dr. Joy Arend and her team at East Portland Dentistry help patients of all ages and stages of life.

Due to the unique hormonal changes women experience, studies have shown that women may have a higher risk of developing oral health problems when compared to men. In addition to dictating mood and feelings, our hormones also affect the delivery of blood to gum tissue and can determine how the body responds to the toxins caused by buildup of plaque. Because of these changes, woman are more likely to develop periodontal disease during certain stages of their lives, as well as a variety of other oral health concerns.

Hormonal Changes

During a woman’s life, there are five situations in which the fluctuation of hormones makes her more susceptible to a variety oral health problems; during puberty, when regularly taking birth control pills, during certain points in the monthly cycle, pregnancy, and during menopause.


During puberty, a woman’s body experiences an increase of the hormones progesterone and estrogen that can cause an increase of blood flow to gum tissue. When this occurs, it can alter the way gum tissue reacts to bacteria, and cause the gum tissue to become swollen, red, and tender. Young girls might also experience bleeding of the gums when brushing and flossing.

Monthly Cycle

The increase in progesterone that occurs in a woman’s body during her menstrual cycle can cause her to experience several oral changes, including swollen salivary glands, swollen gums, bleeding gums, or canker sores. Commonly referred to as menstruation gingivitis, these symptoms usually occur one or two days prior to the beginning of the period and ends within a day or two after it starts.

Birth Control Use

Certain types of birth control pills that women use contain progesterone, which can raise the levels of the hormone in the body when taken. Women using these types of pills may experience inflamed gums due to the body’s hightened reaction to certain toxins produced by mouth bacteria known as plaque. You should inform your dentist when you begin taking any type of oral contraceptive so he or she can inform you of potential side effects.


During pregnancy, a woman’s hormonal levels change dramatically, especially in the levels of progesterone. This increase can cause a woman to develop gum disease at some point during the second or third trimester, a condition commonly called pregnancy gingivitis. To prevent this from occurring, a woman may need to undergo routine dental cleanings more frequently during pregnancy to reduce the risk of gum disease.


As a woman experiences menopause, several oral changes can occur due to advancement in age, prescribed medications taken to fight disease, and natural hormonal changes related to the condition itself. These changes can include experiencing a burning sensation in the mouth, a change in taste, increased sensitivity to hot and cold stimuli, and dry mouth.

Potentially the most damaging symptom of menopause, dry mouth can increase a woman’s risk of tooth decay and gum disease due to a decrease in saliva flow. Saliva acts as natural neutralizing agent against harmful acids plaque produces that damages tooth enamel. Without a steady flow of saliva to wash acids and lingering food particles away from the mouth, tooth decay can become accelerated.

A decrease in the amount of estrogen a woman’s body produces can also place her at a greater risk of losing bone density. When this occurs in the jaw, a woman suffers an increased risk of tooth loss. Bone loss can also lead to gum recession, which exposes more of the tooth surface to decay, and increases the risk of tooth loss.

To make sure that your teeth are in the best possible shape for your stage in life, call dentist in Portland, OR Dr. Joy Arend 503-253-0226 for your personal appointment!

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