How are oral contraceptive pills affecting your oral health?

Written by Dr. Apurva Chavan

September 20, 2020

Women are always victims to the hormonal game. Women need to be aware and take extra precautions about their dental needs during different phases of their life such as puberty, PMS, pregnancy and menopause. 

Contraceptive pills these days are a good modern way to avoid getting pregnant. Just pop a tiny pill once a day and you don’t have to worry about an accidental pregnancy. But did you know that this tiny pill could be affecting your oral health and could also be paving way for poor gum health?


The relation between contraceptive pills and oral health

Contraceptive pills are composed of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. They prevent pregnancy by changing your hormonal balance and making your body a hostile environment for fertilization. This increased levels of estrogen and progesterone causes the gums to get inflamed.

Puffy red gums and bleeding while brushing teeth are the first signs to be seen. The hormonal imbalance also creates favorable conditions for the bad bacteria to grow in your mouth. This increased levels of bad bacteria colonize together and attract more bacteria causing a thin film on the teeth and around the gums called as plaque. This plaque gradually turns into tar tar and this is how the entire onset of gum disease. 

What are other factors that may make it even more worse? Underlying medical conditions and certain medications may aggravate and pace up the progression of gum infections to surrounding tissues causing diseases of the bone in the near future.

Studies show longer use of oral contraceptives have more damaging effects on gum health. Loose gums, loose teeth, spacing between teeth, receded gums after a certain age can occur due to these early damages. Hence contraceptive pills these days have less estrogen levels helping to reduce the severity of the gum inflammation. 

Bleeding gums

Bleeding gums are the most common oral side effect of the pill. Increased level of bacteria causes inflammation or swelling of your gums. This attracts more bacteria which then start to destroy not just your gums and alveolar bone as well. As a result your teeth to become loose due to the destruction of it’s supporting structures.

Dry socket

Women on the pill are twice as likely to develop a dry socket. Dry socket is a post tooth removal complication. The tooth socket is filled with blood clot as soon as the tooth is extracted. This blood clot gets dissolved if the woman is consuming contraceptive pills and causes slower painful healing.

Contraceptive pills have a hormone – estrogen which causes poor wound healing. It also increases pain sensitivity.

Dry mouth ( Xerostomia)

Dry mouth is listed as a side effect in almost all of the contraceptive pills available in the market. It is caused due to a deceased saliva secretion by the salivary glands. Saliva plays a very important role in our body.

It protects our teeth from bacteria, makes it easier to swallow food and even helps with digestion. It’s absence gives rise to problems like increased incidences of cavities and bad breath.

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction ( TMD)

TMD is pain and stiffness in the jaw joint. Sometimes the pain is even radiates to the inner side of your ear. This because the artificial estrogen in the contraceptive pills reduces the amount of natural estrogen your body produces. Lack of estrogen causes inflamed tissues in the jaw area which in turn lead to the pain and stiffness.

Avoid popping those pills

  • Have a word with your gynaecologist if you are having any of the above symptoms. Newer contraceptive pills are now available which has lesser side effects.
  • Always tell your dentist if you are on contraceptive pills before starting the treatment.
  • Certain medicines which your dentist might prescribe interact with the pills and may lead to ineffective treatment.
  • Visit your dentist regularly and keep up with your brushing and flossing routine.

 Highlights

  • Oral contraceptive pills can have a bad effect on your oral health.
  • The estrogen and progesterone in the contraceptives is responsible for gum inflammation.
  • Bleeding gums and puffy red gums hint the onset of gum disease.
  • Dry mouth can also occur with prolonged use of contraceptive pills. Dry mouth can eventually cause tooth cavities in the future.
  • Though all the signs do not occur suddenly on one fine day, this happens gradually.
  • Follow the 5 steps to good oral hygiene to reduce the severity of gingivitis and periodontitis.

What is your Oral Type?

Everybody has a different oral type.

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