There are a variety of hormonal changes a person may go through in their life, from puberty through to old age. A person’s biology, growth and development, lifestyle choices, and stress levels can all affect our body’s hormone balance. Hormonal changes and balance can lead to oral health issues, and a person going through any hormonal change should be sure to be seeing their hygienist or dentist regularly and as prescribed!
During puberty, there is in increase in hormone levels in the bloodstream. For teens who are biologically female, an increase of estrogen and progesterone can lead to the growth of pathogenic bacteria along with it in the bloodstream. The hormonal changes can increase blood flow to the gums and change the way gum tissue reacts to bacterial plaque. This can result in the gum tissue to become red, tender, and swollen, and more likely to bleed during brushing and flossing. Bad breath and cavities are very common during this stage of life, and gums are more vulnerable to infections like gingivitis. Lesions and ulcers may also develop in the mouth during the puberty.
The body goes through hormonal changes that can affect oral health during a pregnancy. An increase in progesterone can result in an increase in bacterial plaque, which causes gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis, which is the swelling or the gums, can be a cause for concern, especially between the second and eighth month of a pregnancy. More frequent cleanings with your hygienist are suggested during this period!
During the menstrual cycle, hormone levels fluctuate. A few days before and during ovulation, progesterone levels in the body increase, which like during pregnancy, can cause swelling in the gums. Canker sores develop more often during your menstrual period, which are small ulcers that can’t be passed from person to person.
Individuals who are transitioning between gender presentations or sex characteristics may undergo a hormone replacement therapy that could affect their oral health. There are many ways in which dentistry professionals can support transgendered people, including educating the patient about the effects that the hormonal changes will have on their oral health. Oral glands contain estrogen receptors, so variations in the hormone levels in the bloodstream directly affect the oral cavity. Just as seen in pregnancy, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, undergoing hormone therapies can cause overly severe inflammatory reactions. It is important to tell your dentist and hygienist about all medications you are taking so they can understand your unique sensibilities.
Hormonal Birth Control
Some birth control methods use hormone to control the menstrual cycle. Hormonal birth control is typically a dose of progesterone to “trick” the body into thinking it’s pregnant. As was mentioned above with pregnancy, this can cause swollen gums which may bleed and be irritated. Oral contraceptives and hormonal birth control should always mentioned in your list of medications that you provide with the clinic. Newer hormonal birth control options have lower dosages, so may not affect a person’s oral health the same. If you are experiencing long-term gum inflammation, and you think it may be a result of your birth control, talk to your doctor or dentist!
Menopause is another hormonal change that happens to the body. During menopause, there is a decline in estrogen in the bloodstream. This can put women at a greater risk for bone loss or osteoporosis and inflammation of the gums. Loss of bone in the jaw can lead to tooth loss! Those who have bone loss may also have receding gums which exposes the tooth’s surface to potential tooth decay.
If you have any concerns or questions about your oral health, please book an appointment to speak with one of our qualified hygienists! Call us at 403-457-0250, or request an appointment here.