When women are exploring their birth control options, they’ll often create lists of pros and cons. At the very least, they’ll weigh the effectiveness of various types of birth control against the potential side effects. That’s what informed consent is all about!
And while a prescribing doctor will do their best to inform their patients about the potential side effects of different forms of birth control, they may not have all of the information themselves. Most women and doctors will know, for example, that birth control pills can affect a woman’s weight and mood and even cause headaches, breakouts and fatigue. But did you know that there’s a surprising connection between birth control pills and oral health?
If you didn’t know, we promise you that there’s nothing to worry about. While oral contraceptives can and often do affect your oral health, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have a thousand-watt smile. It may just take a little extra care and attention.
The Connection Between Birth Control and Oral Health
Most forms of birth control have some effect—even if only a little—on your body’s hormones. In fact, oral contraceptives contain synthetic female hormones such as progestin and progesterone.
Changes to your body’s hormone levels—particularly to your levels of estrogen and progesterone—can have adverse side effects on your oral health.
The Potential Side Effects
Everyone woman’s body will react differently to oral contraceptives however all women will share some of the same increased risks.
- Inflamed Gums: The increase in your body’s progesterone levels heightens its response to the toxins released by plaque and tartar buildup. That heightened response can, in turn, inflame gum tissue. Staying on top of your oral and dental care routine by flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day is crucial to alleviating inflamed gums. The less plaque, the less inflammation.
- Gum Disease: In response to the change in hormone levels, many women will experience a decrease in blood flow to their gums. This decreased blood flow increases your risk for gum disease—this is particularly true for women who smoke or consume other tobacco products. Once again, staying on top of your oral and dental care routine will be crucial in preventing gum diseases such as gingivitis.
- Dry Socket: Having a tooth extracted is normally a very routine procedure. However, oral contraceptives can complicate the healing process. The decrease in blood flow to your gums brought on by birth control pills increases your chances of developing dry socket following a tooth extraction. You’ll want to share your medical history—including any medications such as birth control—with your dentist prior to undergoing any oral or dental operation.
If, while using oral contraceptives, you experience swollen or bleeding gums, stop using the contraceptives and consult with your doctor and dentist about potential remedies or alternatives.
Plan for the Future
The fact that you’re even considering birth control pills means that you’re a planner! And whether children factor into your plans for the near or very, very far future, it’s never too early to start thinking about their smile. Treehouse Dental is happy to answer any and all of your questions and concerns about your current and future fertility plans and how they might affect your smile. Book your next appointment with us today!