Statistics show that slightly more than half of the adult male population is diagnosed with periodontal disease. The average man tends to be less diligent about his dental cleanings and home oral health care than the average woman, which may account for the fact that the portion of women who are diagnosed is somewhat lower at just over one-third. However, even women who faithfully brush and floss multiple times each day harbor one factor that competes with these efforts toward lowering that portion further. The hormonal fluctuations that you experience during your lifetime can affect your oral health and make prevention of gingivitis and periodontal disease more challenging. Learn about the causes of hormonal changes so that you know when to discuss a more effective oral health care protocol with your dentist.

Five Factors That Cause Hormonal Shifts

The two female hormones in your body are called estrogen and progesterone. There are five situations that incite surges or drops in your body's levels of these hormones. These are the five factors that can cause shifts in your hormone levels:

  • Puberty
  • Menstruation
  • Oral contraception
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause

While the hormone levels in each situation may differ, they all affect the health of your gums, causing gingivitis and increasing your risk for developing periodontal disease.


The first occurrence of hormonal shifts in a woman's body occurs during puberty. This transitional period between childhood and womanhood is fraught with emotional and physical turbulence. As if the zits and the awkward stage are not enough to deal with, the rising levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones threaten your oral health by increasing the flow of blood to the gum tissue. This causes alterations in the tissue's responses to plaque, making gums more susceptible to gingivitis. 


You may experience monthly cramping, bloating and fatigue, but if you have also noticed that your gums are red, swollen or bleeding for a couple of days before your period, that is because you are experiencing menstruation gingivitis. The cyclical increases in progesterone bring about these changes. Once your period starts, the symptoms subside.

Oral Contraception

Birth control pills can pose a litany of potential side effects, including effects on your oral health if the pills contain progesterone. The elevated levels of progesterone in your body can prompt a hyper immune response to plaque, leading to gingival inflammation. You should inform your dentist if you are taking birth control pills that contain progesterone.


Pregnancy gingivitis occurs as a result of the increase of progesterone during pregnancy. This condition can develop at any point in time between your second and eighth month of pregnancy. Having gingivitis can increase your risks for a premature delivery and delivering an underweight newborn. If you are pregnant, or are about to become pregnant, inform your dentist so that he or she can recommend an effective and safe dental cleaning schedule for you to follow during this time.


This advanced phase of life poses the greatest threats to your oral health. In addition to changes in how you perceive tastes of certain foods and increased sensitivity to cold or hot foods, the following problems also arise:

  • Declining estrogen increases your risk for decreased bone density. This leads to deterioration in your jawbone, which can result in gum recession, periodontal disease and tooth loss.
  • Hair and skin are not the only things that become dry with advancing age. Your mouth also becomes dry as the result of a decrease in salivation. Dry mouth sets the stage for bacterial growth, increasing your risk for periodontal disease.

Be aware that some medications that are prescribed to combat osteoporosis can adversely affect your dental health.

Frequently brushing your teeth and flossing, combined with keeping up with your dental examinations and cleanings, are crucial steps toward preserving your oral health. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of gingivitis when starting oral contraception, expecting a baby or entering perimenopause, bring these facts to a dentist's attention as soon as possible so that a proactive treatment plan can be implemented to preserve your beautiful smile and overall health.

For more information, visit a dental clinic in your area, such as Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, today.