While women tend to take better care of their oral health then men do, women’s oral health is not markedly better than men’s. This is because hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman’s life can affect many tissues, including the gum tissue.
A study published in the January 1999 issue of the Journal of Periodontology reports that at least 23 percent of women age 30-54 have periodontitis (an advanced state of periodontal disease in which there is active destruction of the periodontal supporting tissue). And, 44 percent of women ages 55- 90 who still have their teeth have periodontitis. Periodontal disease is often called a “silent disease”, and many women aren’t even aware of the disease until it has reached an advanced state. However, at each stage of your life, you can take steps to protect your health.
As a young woman progresses through puberty, the tendency for her gums to swell in response to irritants will lessen. However, during puberty, it is important to follow a good at-home oral hygiene regimen, including regular brushing and flossing, and regular dental care. In some cases, a dental professional may recommend periodontal therapy to help prevent damage to the tissues and the bone supporting the teeth.
Occasionally, some women experience menstruation gingivitis. Women with this condition may experience bleeding gums, bright red and swollen gums and sores on the inside of the cheek. Menstruation gingivitis typically occurs right before a woman’s period and clears up once her period has started.
Oral contraceptives may be susceptible to the same oral health conditions that affect pregnant women. They may experience red, bleeding and swollen gums. Women taking oral contraceptives should know that taking drugs sometimes used to help periodontal disease, such as antibiotics, may lessen the effect of an oral contraceptive.
Gum disease can also present a higher risk of premature births. Any infection, including periodontal infection, is cause for concern during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. In some cases, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritant and form large lumps. These growths, called pregnancy tumors, are not cancerous and are generally painless. If the tumor persists, it may require removal by a periodontist.