Gum Disease & Women
A woman’s periodontal health may be impacted by a variety of factors. Learn more by clicking on the topics below.
During puberty, an increased level of sex hormones, such as progesterone and possibly estrogen, causes increased blood circulation to the gums. This may cause an increase in the gum’s sensitivity and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel tender.
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.
Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may experience changes in their mouths. They may notice discomfort in the mouth, including dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in the gum tissue and altered taste, especially salty, peppery or sour. In addition, menopausal gingivostomatitis affects a small percentage of women. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red mark this condition. Most women find that estrogen supplements help to relieve these symptoms.
There used to be an old wives’ tale that said “A tooth is lost for every child.” While it may seem farfetched, it may actually be based loosely on fact. Your teeth and gums can be affected by pregnancy, just like other areas of your body.
Most commonly, pregnant women can develop gingivitis, or pregnancy gingivitis, beginning in the second or third month and can increase in severity through the eighth month of pregnancy. During this time, some women notice swelling, bleeding, redness, or tenderness in the gum tissue.
In some cases, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to local irritants and form a large lump. These growths, called pregnancy tumors, are not cancerous and are generally painless. They usually disappear after pregnancy, but some may require removal by a dental professional, such as a periodontist. The best way to avoid periodontal conditions associated with pregnancy is to begin with healthy gums. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, you should visit your dentist or periodontist for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation.
If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you need to know that your periodontal health may affect the pregnancy and ultimately the health of your baby. Pregnant women who experience periodontal disease during their pregnancies may be twice as likely to develop preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. It can put you and your baby at risk for severe complications.
Additionally, studies have suggested that women who experience periodontal disease during pregnancy may be at risk of having a premature or low birth weight baby. The good news is that researchers are making strides to find out exactly how periodontal disease affects pregnancy outcomes. Some studies have suggested that treating periodontitis during pregnancy may reduce the risks of a preterm birth. Preventing gum problems from developing during the stresses of pregnancy also appears to be important in improving the health of mother and baby.
If you are already pregnant and have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, treatment by your dental professional may reduce your chances of having a preterm, low birth weight baby. Talk to your dentist or periodontist for more information. If you’re considering pregnancy, it’s a good idea to include a periodontal evaluation as part of your prenatal care. A healthy mouth can help give you, and your baby, something to smile about!
Researchers have found that women undergoing infertility treatment and who are subjected to ovulation induction for more than three menstrual cycles had higher levels of gingival inflammation and bleeding. More studies are needed to examine the impact of infertility treatments on periodontal health. Until more information is known, meticulous at-home oral care including routine tooth brushing and flossing and regular cleanings by dental a professional is a practical approach while receiving infertility treatment.
Some studies have suggested the possibility of an additional risk factor – periodontal disease. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. However, more research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. All infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby. The Academy recommends that women considering pregnancy have a periodontal evaluation. Studies have shown that women with periodontal disease may be at an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as delivering a preterm or low birth weight baby. More research is needed to determine the exact relationship, but expectant mothers should consider having a periodontal evaluation to ensure that their periodontal health is at its best.