Have you ever noticed that women are more prone to have oral problems than men? Life is full of big decisions for women. One of the biggest is the decision about if, and when, to have children, which means most women must make a decision at some point during their life about birth control. And the decision involves changes with their hormones. Hormones impact not only body changes, mood, emotions, appetite, but also a woman’s overall health. As a result, women are prone to have oral health problems.
There are a variety of birth control methods for women to choose from. Each method has both advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages will be shown in the levels of hormones and oral health. To understand the connection between birth control and oral health, we must first understand how hormonal changes can impact oral health.
How Hormonal Changes Impact Oral Health
There are 5 stages in a women’s life during which hormone fluctuations make them more prone to oral problems – during puberty, at certain points in the monthly menstrual cycle, when using birth control pills, during pregnancy, and at menopause. With large fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone in their system, some women will experience gum disease-like symptoms such as swollen or bleeding gums.
Birth Control and Oral Health: The Hormone Connection
Because many forms of birth control include hormones, the first month after ingesting the pill has the most profound effect on the body. When large fluctuations with hormones occur, some women will experience gum disease-like symptoms such as swollen or bleeding gums because their gums are more sensitive during this time and may become agitated easier.
The good news is that not all birth control is created equal and the newer pills today have lower levels of estrogen and progesterone than they once did, so the effect of hormones on oral health isn’t quite as severe. However, women who already have gingivitis (the early stages of gum disease) are at a higher risk for gum disease to progress when using hormone-based birth control.
Birth Control and Oral Health: Other Factors to Consider
- Smoking: there are links between women who smoke and use birth control. Women who smoke have an increased risk to a number of problems including blood clotting and experiencing dry socket after having a wisdom tooth pulled.
- Medications: some medications can be less effective or have interactions with birth control. So, be sure to share all medication information with your dentist.
- Time: the amount of time a woman uses hormone-based birth control also increases their risk of gum disease.
While there are many different things for a woman to consider when choosing the right birth control method, making sure oral health is minimally impacted can be achieved by maintaining good oral care practices.
Tips to Prevent Oral Health Problems
Some tips for preventing oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay include:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Floss and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a professional oral examination, make sure you tell your dentist all medications, including the birth control that you’re taking.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Avoid sugary or starchy snacks.