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What Red Gum Color Can Mean for Women

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Variations and changes to levels of your female sex hormones can cause changes to your body and oral health. If you are asking the following questions: Why are my gums red? Do red gums indicate another problem with my oral health? We’re here to help you understand what red gums are typically associated with, how it connects to your hormones, and what you can do.

Red Gums in Women

Your hormones have wide-reaching effects throughout your brain and body that impact your mood and wellbeing. When it comes to your oral health, your sex can affect your risk of developing various conditions. Many women find that their gums are red or swollen during times of hormonal change, such as during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, or while menstruating. You may also experience this while taking medications or birth control that affect your hormones.

So, what does having red gums mean? Red, swollen, or sensitive gums are symptoms of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Hormonal fluctuations increase your risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms of gum disease may include:

  • Red, swollen, or sensitive gums
  • Bleeding when flossing or brushing
  • Bad breath or foul taste in your mouth
  • Separation of the gums from your teeth
  • Feeling that your teeth have loosened
  • Your bite does not align properly

It’s still possible to develop gum disease even if you don’t experience any warning signs. Fortunately, your dental professional can help diagnose this condition and educate you on the best ways to treat and prevent it. In the meantime, we’ve collected some helpful information below.

Hormonal Changes

Any medication, condition, or stage of life that affects your sex hormones may increase your risk of gingivitis (early-stage gum disease) and periodontitis (advanced gum disease). One reason for this is that changes in levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone have been shown to increase your inflammatory response, according to the Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine.

Even though hormonal fluctuation can increase your risk of gum disease, it does not directly cause it. Gum disease is caused by plaque (also known as biofilm) and bacteria, which build up in the absence of improper dental care or from an unhealthy diet.

Hormonal changes that increase your risk of red gums and gum disease may include:

  • Puberty
  • Menstruation
  • Hormonal contraceptives (birth control)
  • Medications affecting your hormones
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause

Helpful tip: If you’re experiencing difficulty with your hormones, rest assured that experts can help. Your primary care physician (PCP) can assist you with diagnosis and treatment or refer you to a hormone specialist known as an endocrinologist.

Treatment and Prevention

No matter the cause of your hormonal changes, the correct steps to take for treatment and prevention are the same. You’ll be happy to hear that early-stage gum disease (also known as gingivitis) is often reversible with lifestyle changes. Even though hormonal variations increase your inflammatory response and risk of gum disease, the power is in your hands to prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque!

It’s vital to take steps to treat and prevent red gums and gum disease because if left untreated, they can worsen and cause other major dental problems. The earlier you address the underlying cause of your gum disease, the easier it is to treat.

Steps to treat or prevent red gums and gum disease may include:

  • Brushing your teeth gently for two minutes twice a day using a soft-bristled brush
  • Cleaning between your teeth once a day using floss, a flossing device, or an interdental brush
  • Rinsing using antiseptic mouthrinse to help keep your gums healthy
  • Avoiding smoking and tobacco products
  • Consuming a balanced diet that’s low in overly sugary or acidic foods and beverages
  • Visiting your dental professional for regular checkups

In cases when your gum disease progressed beyond gingivitis to periodontitis, you will require expert treatment. Plaque that isn’t removed properly during your dental routine will harden into tartar beneath your gums that you will not be able to remove on your own. It’s crucial to schedule an appointment with your dental professional if you believe you may have advanced gum disease.

You’ve made an important first step to inform yourself of the details of hormonal changes and gum disease. You’re now empowered with the information to treat and prevent early-stage gum disease from progressing and avoid other oral problems in the future.

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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