Many women have discovered the link between hormonal surges and dental health, with both menstrual cycles and pregnancy producing oral symptoms such as gum inflammation. But what is progesterone sensitivity and how would you know if you have an actual condition, compared with simply reacting to hormonal highs and lows?
What Is Progesterone?
The hormone progesterone is produced by the ovaries, as well as by the placenta during pregnancy. It plays a primary role in the menstrual cycle by helping to prepare the endometrium for conception. It typically breaks down and leaves the body during menstruation, but if pregnancy occurs, the progesterone levels remain high to prevent ovulation during the pregnancy and promote the development of milk-producing glands in the breasts, according to the Office on Women's Health.
Symptoms of Sensitivity
How do you know if you have a sensitivity to progesterone? Signs and symptoms that affect your mouth, according to the New Zealand Dental Association, include:
- Oral changes, such as red or swollen gums that bleed easily during brushing and flossing, which is known as "menstruation gingivitis."
- An elevated level of plaque bacteria, leading to a "coating or film" on the surface of the teeth.
- Canker sores in the mouth, particularly around the time of the menstruation or during pregnancy.
If you take progesterone as a supplement, you could experience additional side effects, such as constipation, heart burn, vomiting and nausea, a bloated sensation, depression and irritability, according to HealthGuidance.org. If the effects are particularly bad, you may be allergic to the hormone instead of merely sensitive to it.
Adapting Your Oral Health Routine
It's one thing to stop taking supplements if you identify a progesterone sensitivity, but there's little you can do about your body's natural production of the hormone. You can adapt your oral health routine, however, by making some simple changes. It begins with paying extra attention and taking good care of your mouth, according to the American Dental Association.
Avoid excessive intake of sugary and starchy foods, which promote the growth of plaque.
Switch to a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth, such as Colgate Sensitive Complete Protection.
Invest in a dental irrigator or water flosser, which is gentler on your mouth tissue than a toothbrush and dental floss, but equally effective in removing food particles and bacteria.
These methods will provide some relief during periods of heightened sensitivity, and help to avoid the development of periodontal disease resulting from the symptoms.
Check Your Procedures
Certain dental procedures may be up for scrutiny if you know you're sensitive to progesterone. Avoid having work done in your mouth during times of sensitivity. This applies to regular dental examinations, as well as procedures, such as fillings, root canals and implants. The best time for a cleaning is in the week directly following your period, according to Women's Health Magazine. You should also be extra vigilant about your brushing and flossing in the week leading up to your period, and schedule any oral surgery, such as wisdom tooth extraction, for immediately after your period ends.
If you need an emergency procedure at any other time, tell your dental practitioner where you are in your monthly cycle and how it affects you, so he or she can take any necessary steps to make you more comfortable.