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 chances of periodontal disease may increase.


During puberty, there is increased production of female hormones. These higher hormone levels increase gum sensitivity and inflammation. The gums can become swollen, red, and tender.


Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. Bleeding of the gums, redness, swelling of the gums, or sores on the inside of the cheek may occur. These symptoms generally clear up once the menstrual period starts.


Your gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth month, gums may also swell, bleed, and become red or tender. Periodontal health practices should be part of your prenatal care. Any infections during pregnancy, including periodontal infections, can place an unborn baby’s health at risk. For more information, see the Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease page of our website.

Oral Contraceptives

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

You should always mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions.


Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur during or following menopause. They include:

  • pain and burning of your gums
  • salty, peppery or sour tastes
  • ‘dry mouth’

Careful oral hygiene and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms.