Could Your Birth Control Be Affecting Your Oral Health?
One of the most important things to keep in mind when treating our patients is the fact that oral health is not separate from the overall health of your body. Every system of the body is intricately connected, meaning issues in one body system can manifest and show signs in the others. This is precisely why dentists recommend a checkup every six months; your mouth can show early signs of serious diseases and health issues. Due to this ever-connect nature of total body health, we raise the question as to whether your birth control could be affecting your oral health. Sixth Street Dental - a leading dentist in Pittsburgh - is here to break down this question at its root and explains ways in which you can maintain good oral health while on birth control.
How Does Birth Control Work?
Hormonal Changes Affect the Whole Body
Most people who are on birth control have a pretty good idea of how it works. However, some people have never been fully educated on the way birth control works and it affects our bodies. One of the most popular types of birth control is the pill, which is a daily ingestible medication that delivers doses of hormones - primarily estrogen and/or progesterone - that, in essence, trick your body into thinking it’s already pregnant. It does this in a variety of ways, including halting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, or changing the makeup of the uterine wall so that a fertilized egg could not implant and cause a pregnancy. Depending on the prescription, the hormone used will vary as will the amount of hormone in each pill.
Hormones play a really important role in how our bodies function. Not only are our bodies exposed to sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, but to hormones that control basic functions in our bodies like adrenaline, insulin, and melatonin. All of these hormones - particularly the sex hormones found in birth control - can alter our emotions, mood, appetite, the physical appearance of our bodies, and our physical health as a whole. But what does this have to do with our oral health? Let’s break it down.
How Does Birth Control Affect Oral Health?
A Dentist in Pittsburgh Breaks Down the Effects of Hormones on Oral Health
As mentioned, hormones control a variety of functions in our bodies that are constantly interconnected with one another. Birth control is a direct source of fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone in the body and can lead to changes in the mouth as well as the reproductive system.
Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone from birth control, for example, can lead to gum disease-like symptoms like bleeding, swollen, and sensitive gums. These symptoms are often more prevalent in the first month on a new form of birth control and are primarily present in people who are taking birth control with higher doses of hormones. Additionally, different bodies react to hormones differently, and these symptoms may not be present in many people.
Additionally, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association, women who use birth control are twice as likely to develop dry socket after a wisdom tooth extraction. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that naturally forms after an extraction dislodges and can cause a great amount of pain after wisdom tooth extraction.
Birth control users are also linked to an increased risk of TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder: a disorder affecting the joint that connects the jaw bone and the skull that causes pain and stiffness. Synthetic hormones found in certain birth control methods can lead to a deficiency in natural estrogen, which can cause more inflammation and is linked to TMD.
In other words, the hormones in your birth control can lead to changes across your whole body, causing changes in your gums, joints, and ability to clot. Because of these issues and a variety of others, it’s important to always have an open conversation with your doctor before choosing a birth control method.
How a Dentist in Pittsburgh Recommends Mitigating These Issues
Be Sure to Practice Good Oral Health Habits When Using Birth Control
Preserving oral health while on hormonal birth control is extremely important. One of the best ways to tackle this issue is to start a conversation with your dentist about the types of birth control you use and how long you have been using it. This allows your dentist to take a holistic look into your health and dental care to make an informed decision about how to treat you.
Additionally, a dentist in Pittsburgh recommends continuing good oral health habits. Brush twice a day, floss, and use a non-alcohol mouthwash to keep your mouth healthy in spite of changes from hormonal birth control.
Think it’s time to take a second look at your oral health? Get in touch with Sixth Street Dental Aesthetics - a leading dentist in Pittsburgh - today to schedule a checkup or consultation.