Although most people are affected by at least a mild form of periodontitis, women are more susceptible to the disease during certain parts of their lives. Hormonal changes can affect the blood supply to the gums, making them more sensitive and exaggerating their response to irritants and plaque.
Girls and Teens
During puberty, production of the sex hormones progesterone and estrogen increases. This hormonal increase can exaggerate the way the gum tissues react to the irritants in plaque. Gums may become red, tender, swollen and likely to bleed easily when chewing or brushing the teeth. This condition can sometimes be difficult to manage when undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces–which many teens are during that age.
Use of Oral Contraceptives
Inflamed gums are a common problem for women who take oral contraceptives, or birth control pills. The hormone in oral contraceptives increases the level of progesterone in your system. Tell your dentist if you are taking oral contraceptives, not only because they may cause any gum inflammation you might be having but also because some medications the dentist might give you, such as antibiotics, can lessen the effect of an oral contraceptive.
Hormone levels rise considerably during pregnancy. Gingivitis, especially common during the second to eight months of pregnancy, may cause red, puffy or tender gums that tend to bleed when brushing the teeth. This sensitivity is an exaggerated response to plaque and is caused by an increased level of progesterone in the system. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings during your second trimester or early third trimester to help you avoid problems.