You probably know that birth control can affect weight and mood, but were you aware that it also affects oral health? Before you start this new medication, learn about the connection between oral health and birth control.
Birth Control Side Effects and Oral Health
Because contraceptives are made up of hormones to prevent fertility, taking birth control results in hormonal changes in women. These changes can increase sensitivity to oral health problems, affecting the blood supply received by gum tissue and the body’s response to the toxins created by plaque buildup.
According to Cleveland Clinic, women who take certain oral contraceptives that might contain progesterone can experience inflamed gum tissues. This is because the body has an exaggerated reaction to the toxins produced from plaque. That said, newer birth control pills have lower concentrations of hormones, which means you're less likely to experience inflamed gum tissues when using them.
The Cleveland Clinic also notes a connection between birth control pills, decreased natural estrogen, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Research shows that birth control pills can reduce natural estrogen levels, which affects TMJ. Additionally, the combination of the compression caused by TMJ disorders within the joint and the lowered levels of natural estrogen can increase inflammation. This can cause osteoarthritis in the joints in some people.
If you’re taking birth control pills and having a tooth removed, you’re more likely to experience a painful complication known as dry socket. This condition occurs when the blood clots that naturally forms after an extraction get dislodged.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that women who have used the injectable progesterone contraception depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) are likely to have or develop poor gingival and periodontal health. Estrogen and progesterone hormones in contraceptives are linked to increased inflammation, causing periodontal tissue breakdown, plaque build-up, and gingival enlargement.
To ensure that birth control doesn’t adversely affect your oral health, tell your dentist if you’re taking contraceptives and which kind you’re taking. Another reason for sharing this information is that certain antibiotics your dentist may prescribe can lower birth control effectiveness.
While birth control can affect your oral health, consulting with your dentist and physician can help you manage any side effects that contraceptives cause. Maintaining a regular oral care routine is key to ensuring that your mouth stays healthy – and that you stay comfortable.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.