Hormonal Changes and the Mouth

Gingivitis can worsen during different phases of the life cycle:

  • Onset of puberty
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms include sore, red, and bleeding gums.

Treatment is proper hygiene (brush twice daily and floss daily) and periodic dental visits/cleanings.

Simone van den Berg/Photos.com
Simone van den Berg/Photos.com

During menopause, the decrease in hormones leads to atrophy of gums and other oral changes such as dry mouth and altered taste sensation. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may improve these symptoms, but these symptoms alone are not an indication for HRT use.

Encourage women to maintain oral hygiene, use saliva substitutes as needed, and attend preventive dental visits. Avoid medications that can cause dry mouth (e.g. SSRIs, antihistamines) and prescribe the lowest effective doses.


Alves RC, Félix SA, Rodriguez-Archilla A, et al. Relationship between menopause and periodontal disease: a cross-sectional study in a Portuguese population. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(7):11412-11419.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4565340 

American Dental Association Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations. Women's Oral Health Issues. 2006. Accessed April 15, 2014

Buencamino MCA. et al. How menopause affects oral health and what we can do about it. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine.  2009. 76(8):467-475.