Women are more prone to oral health problems because they experience a unique hormonal change time after time. Through their life time, women have special issues when it comes to taking care of their teeth and gums. Hormones not only affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also the body’s response to the toxins that result from the buildup of plaque. As a result of these changes, women are more prone to the development of periodontal disease at some stages of their lives as well as to other oral health problems. Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and oral contraceptives can have an effect on a woman’s mouth.
The surge in production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone that occurs during puberty can increase the blood flow to the gums and change the way gum tissue reacts to irritants in plaque, causing the gum tissue to become red, tender, swollen and more likely to bleed during brushing and flossing.
Due to the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, some women experience oral changes that include bright red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, and development of canker sores or bleeding gums.
In pregnancy, gingivitis is the most common oral condition. In addition to overall gum changes, one area of the gum may swell and produce a pregnancy tumor. An increased level of progesterone in particular can cause gum disease any time during the second to the eighth month of pregnancy- a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. The symptoms include red, inflamed and bleeding gums. Prenatal care during this time is very important.
Birth control pills mimic the effects of pregnancy. Women experience gum the gum tissue changes that occur in pregnancy. Women on birth control pills may be more prone to healing problems after tooth extraction. This can lead to a dry socket. Those who take pills that contain progesterone may experience inflamed gum tissues due to the body’s exaggerated reaction to the toxins produced from plaque.
Also numerous oral changes can occur as a consequence of advanced age, the medications taken to combat diseases, and hormonal changes due to menopause. These oral changes can include altered taste, burning sensations in the mouth, greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages, and decreased salivary flow that can result in a dry mouth. Dry mouth can result to tooth decay and gum disease as saliva is not present to moisten and cleanse the mouth by neutralizing the acid produced by plaque.