Women and Periodontal Health

Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in hormonal levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring specialty care which may include non-invasive or minimally-invasive surgical treatment.


During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These higher hormone levels can increase gum sensitivity and  can lead to greater irritation from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.  If you’ve experienced these symptoms during or soon after your pregnancy please call us to discuss any future oral-systemic connections.


Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. Bleeding of the gums, bright red swelling between the teeth and gum, or sores on the inside of the cheek may occur. These symptoms generally clear up once menstruation has started.  If they don’t clear up, please give us a call so we can complete a comprehensive periodontal evaluation. 


Gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy, so periodontal health practices should be part of the prenatal care process. Between the second and eighth month, gums may also swell, bleed, and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear sometime after delivery. But any infection during pregnancy, including periodontal infections, may put a baby’s health at risk. For more information, see the section of our website labeled Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease under the Mouth-Body Connection tab.

Oral Contraceptives

Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones.

To eliminate the risk of drug interactions, you should always mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, before medical or dental treatment. Antibiotics combined with oral contraceptives, for example, lessen the effectiveness of the contraceptive.


Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. Changes may include: pain and burning in the gum tissue, salty, peppery, sour tastes, and dry mouth. Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of dry mouth.