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Periodontal Health Through the Years

Fluctuating hormones in women of all ages can impact gum health.

Understanding Periodontal Health

Periodontal diseases are the result of inflammation and infections of the gum and bone that support the teeth. When the gums first turn swollen and red, it’s called gingivitis. If left untreated, this can evolve into periodontitis, a more serious gum infection that damages soft tissue and dental bone.

Women are especially prone to gum disease due to changes in hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which regulate the menstrual cycle. These hormones increase blood flow to the gums, making them tender and delicate. As gums become more sensitive, bacteria are more likely to grow beneath the gums and around the teeth. 


During puberty, girls experience an increased level of progesterone and estrogen, which can increase gum sensitivity. Orthodontic treatments, such as braces, can make the condition even more difficult to manage. 

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Many women experience menstruation gingivitis during their monthly cycle. This usually occurs a day or two before the start of your period and clears up once the period begins. Symptoms include bright red and swollen gums and sores in the cheek. 


Pregnant women have a higher risk of gum disease due to rising hormone levels. Gingivitis is common from the second to eighth month of pregnancy. Because oral infections can pose a health risk for the baby, it’s important for pregnant women to have regular periodontal evaluations.

Menopause and Post-Menopause.

Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal are susceptible to periodontitis, due to age-related changes in the mouth, hormone fluctuation, and medications taken to combat certain diseases. You may experience discomfort in the mouth, burning sensations, and altered taste. Menopausal gingivostomatitis – where gums look dry and shiny, and are abnormally pale – is also common. 


The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice healthy periodontal habits. Brushing twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride, flossing every day, and visiting the dentist twice a year can help you stay on top of potential gum issues. Your dentist can address any specific concerns and provide further advice.

An Expert Weighs In

“Female hormonal fluctuations – particularly estrogen and progesterone – can lead to issues with your overall gum health. An overabundance of hormones, as with puberty or pregnancy, can increase redness and bleeding in gums and lead to gingivitis. When hormone levels drop, like with menopause, you may notice a drier mouth. Menopause also has a tendency to cause osteoporosis, which can affect the density levels of the jawbone. With this, periodontal disease is more prevalent. Gums may start to recede, among other symptoms. Next time you see your dentist, be sure to tell them about any changes you have noticed.”

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