Oral Contraceptives Can Increase Gum Disease Risk

Some people will try to tell you that the main reason why you develop gum disease is that you aren’t practicing good oral hygiene, but there are actually many factors that contribute to your gum disease risk. Your genes, for example, have a large influence on your gum disease risk. Oral contraceptives, birth control pills, can also increase your risk.

Significant Increases

Studies have shown that women taking oral contraceptives are much more likely to experience significant gum disease than those not taking oral contraceptives. They were more likely to have deep pockets around their teeth, more detachment of gums from teeth, and more bleeding gums.

Some studies also indicate that damage increases with time. Women who had been taking birth control pills for more than a year and a half had significantly more damage than those who had been taking them for less time, according to one study.

Similar to Pregnancy

One of the potential causes of increased gum inflammation is that birth control pills partly mimic some of the hormonal effects of pregnancy. Since more than three quarters of women experience gum disease during pregnancy, it’s not surprising that there might be more gum disease in women taking birth control pills.

This may partly be because a woman’s immune system may get more aggressive during pregnancy. Infections have potentially serious consequences for mother and baby, so the body may respond more significantly to gum infections. (And it’s good, too, because gum disease is related to more pregnancy complications.) Since some of the damage from gum disease is caused by your body’s immune response as well as the bacteria, this could lead to more symptoms.

Another possibility is that the hormonal changes caused by birth control could make the mouth more hospitable to aggressive bacteria.

Protect Your Oral Health

Although birth control pills can increase your risk for gum disease, you can still keep it under control with attentive care, including good oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups. If you need additional help, we may recommend extra hygiene visits, CariFree treatments, or other approaches to controlling oral bacteria.

For an appointment with a thorough Las Vegas dentist, please call (702) 873-0324 and schedule a consultation at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.