Birth Control and Oral Health: What To Know

Woman with Birth Control

Birth control has the power to help many women have a handle on their hormone cycles, maintain regular menstrual cycles, and help prevent fertility. As a powerful tool for women’s health, birth control can have side effects that impact the teeth and gums. The changes in hormone levels have a significant impact on not just your oral health but your general health and well-being. Many major oral health issues that affect women can result from birth control, and when it comes to the relation between these two aspects of women’s health, and how awareness of the side effects can be managed.

How Does Birth Control Affect Oral Health?

Birth control can have some side effects when it comes to oral health. Below, you’ll find the most recent studies discussed by journals and organizations about how birth control affects oral health:

Gum Disease

Oral contraceptives, as used for birth control, typically have a combination of estrogen and progesterone. The levels of hormone present in these pills, depending on the brand of medication and the amount administered by your gynecologist, can have the potential to harm the gums. According to the American Dental Association, hormones can cause higher blood levels to flow to the gums, resulting in an extreme amount of sensitivity to the gums, which makes the gums more susceptible to plaque and bacteria. However, when recommended in the right doses, these prescriptions should no longer cause sensitivity to occur.

Because of the severity of gum disease, gum disease in women has also been linked to increased stroke risks, diabetes, heart disease, and even certain cancers. For women who have begun taking birth control within the last year, if you’ve experienced any symptoms of gum disease, which include bleeding gums, swollen gums, and even signs of the gums creating pockets, speak with both your gynecologist and primary dentist to discuss forms of treatment.

Dry Socket

Another aspect of birth control that can affect women is dry sockets, specifically after wisdom teeth removal. Dry sockets occur when a blood clot naturally forms in the socket and then is dislodged or removed. However, mixed results reported by the American Dental Association Journal have shown that it isn’t entirely conclusive. Other variables affect the validity of this side effect, including smoking, where the extraction site was located, the complexity of the procedure, and the age of the women receiving the procedure. However, women should consider these factors when receiving wisdom tooth removal.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

TMJ disorder is defined by stiffness and pain throughout the joint that supports the jawbone. Synthetic hormones found in specific birth control methods can lead to a deficiency in producing natural estrogen. This deficiency can lead to inflammation in the joints, which can also potentially lead to TMJ disorder.

Canker Sores

Some people have reported problems such as canker sores developing due to the hormonal shifts during menstruation. Research into the correlation between canker sores and birth control is scarce; it’s still essential to note the potential causes, specifically after starting birth control.

When it comes to birth control, always consult your gynecologists about your medication’s potential side effects and inform your dentist about the types of medication you’re taking before treatment. For more information, contact Dr. Gerard J. Lemongello and Dr. Jay M. Lerner, located at Lerner and Lemongello in Palm Beach Garden, FL.

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