Are your gums red and swollen?

Posted on 27th August 2019

Menstruation

You could find that about three to four days out from the start of your period that you experience increased soreness in your mouth, with your gums swelling and becoming more prone to bleeding. This is caused by increased amounts of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in your body and an accompanying build-up of plaque.

Or you could develop a temporary form of gingivitis, which is characterised by redness and swelling of the gums and sores that appear on your tongue and inside cheeks. Fortunately, it usually disappears once your period starts.

On the other hand, you may find you experience little to no ill-effects at all.

However your mouth reacts to your period, the best advice is to keep brushing and flossing as normal. If you experience increased sensitivity or soreness, and are tempted to pull back from your usual oral health routine as a result, see your dentist who can suggest the best way to handle brushing and flossing during these hormonal fluctuations.

While you can undergo dental treatments at any time, there is an emerging school of thought that says certain dental treatments are best carried out at particular times of your period. For instance, the increased gum puffiness and inflammation of your gums means that a professional cleaning by your dentist will be most comfortable about a week after your period ends. Similarly, you might find that the days right after your period is the least sensitive time for you to get a filling or have a tooth extracted.

If you’re on oral contraceptives that contain progesterone, you may find that the increased levels of the hormone in your body trigger the same kind of gingivitis often seen in pregnant women. Known as “pregnancy gingivitis”, it’s marked by swelling and redness, caused by increased blood flow to the gums. It will be pronounced in the first few months after you go on the pill and if it worsens, it’s a good idea to look at an alternative. Always make sure you tell your dentist when you’re using contraceptives.

Puberty

There’s a lot going on in your body during puberty. Estrogen and progesterone send a lot more blood than normal to your gums, increasing their sensitivity to plaque, and causing them to become more easily irritated by food particles. It’s a condition you’ll hear referred to as puberty gingivitis and it’s hard to miss, leaving you with red, swollen gums that bleed more easily than usual.

If you take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing twice a day and flossing once daily, you probably won’t develop this form of gingivitis. But it can crop up if some plaque or gingivitis was present in your mouth at the onset of puberty.

The good news is that puberty gingivitis can be easily treated with brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings by a dentist. If you end up with a more severe case, you might need to have two or more professional cleanings in a year to keep on top of things. This is why it’s important that you keep seeing your dentist on a regular basis.

If you’ve got braces, you need to make sure you’re spending extra time to properly brush your teeth. This means taking out the removable parts of your braces such as elastics and bands, carefully cleaning around the wires and pins and brushing all the areas of your teeth. If you have any questions about the right technique you should use, you just need to ask your dentist.