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What Is Menstruation Gingivitis? How Women's Periods Affect Gum Health

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Your hormones can really throw you for a loop. As the National Institutes of Health notes, a small change in your hormones can lead to major changes in your body. Hormone levels rise and fall throughout a woman's menstrual cycle, during pregnancy or menopause, or as a result of using birth control pills, as the American Dental Association (ADA) explains. Those changes can affect your mood, your weight and your dental health.

If you've ever noticed that your gums bleed or get swollen around the time of your period, you may have experienced menstruation gingivitis. Learn more about why women's periods might trigger gingivitis and what you can do about it.

Hormones and Your Gums

As the Cleveland Clinic points out, the increase in hormones — particularly progesterone — that occurs during the menstrual cycle can lead to changes in your mouth and gums. According to the ADA, higher hormone levels increase blood flow to the gums. The increase in blood flow can make the gums more sensitive and susceptible to irritation. They may, for instance, be more sensitive to bacteria and plaque around the gumline, triggering symptoms of gingivitis.

Signs of Menstruation Gingivitis

Not every woman develops signs and symptoms of gingivitis right around her period. Those who do are likely to see changes in their gums about a day or two before their period shows up, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Usually, the symptoms resolve right as menstruation begins.

What can you expect if you're dealing with menstruation gingivitis? The ADA notes that the most telling sign is swollen, bleeding gums. In addition to these gym symptoms, hormonal changes may also cause you to develop canker sores or swollen salivary glands during your period.

Should You See a Dentist About Menstruation Gingivitis?

Bleeding gums and other signs of gingivitis around the time of your period can be a pain, but they're usually nothing to worry about. The symptoms usually clear up on their own, either when the period begins or by the time it ends, as the ADA notes. For the most part, you don't need to see a dentist if you have this type of gingivitis.

If you happen to have an appointment for an exam and cleaning around the time of your period, and you've noticed signs of menstruation gingivitis before, you might want to try to schedule your appointment for the week after your period, so that your gums won't be more sensitive than usual.

Although this type of gingivitis isn't usually a cause for alarm, if you continue to have bleeding, swollen gums and other symptoms, or if you're noticing unexpected changes in your gums, it could be something else. Make an appointment with your dentist. They can examine your gums, recommend gum disease treatments if needed and give you tips on how to prevent bleeding and other gum issues in the future.

No matter where you are in your cycle, keeping up a good oral care routine at home is essential. Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss at least daily. Don't be shy about asking your family dentist for any pointers and advice about how to keep your mouth healthy throughout your cycle.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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