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 special care of your oral region.

  • During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These higher hormone levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritation from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 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. You should always mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment.


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