Hormones are essential to managing body processes

When it comes to birth control and the hormone levels they create, there can be changes to your teeth and gums. If you take birth control, you should tell your dentist when you visit. It is necessary because the birth control you take—and the hormones that are usually part of it—also affect your oral health. Here's what you need to know about your birth control and oral health. 

The Different Types of Birth Control

Women have a lot of choices for birth control these days. Many of them use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Others do not. Let's take a quick look at many of the options for hormonal birth control:[1]

Hormonal Birth Control

The Pill: Taking a pill by mouth every day prevents pregnancy, and, when used correctly, it can be 99.9 percent effective.[2]

The Shot: Depo-Provera, administered as a shot every 12 weeks, is a dose of a manufactured hormone called medroxyprogesterone, a synthetic version of progesterone. If women get the shot as directed every three months, it can be 99 percent effective. However, because that doesn't always work out, the typical effectiveness rate of this form of hormonal birth control is about 94 percent. [3]

The Ring: This form of birth control is a flexible ring worn in the vagina and changed every month, or every year, depending on the one you get. It releases segesterone acetate, another synthetic progestin, and Ethinyl estradiol. This method has a 96 to 99 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly. [4]

The IUD: This method is an intrauterine device shaped like a T that releases small amounts of hormones (progestin) to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. It has a 99 percent effectiveness rate. [5]

The Patch: Wearing this patch on your body releases hormones into your system, similar to the vaginal ring or birth control pills. If you change the patch as directed, it will be 99 percent effective. [6]

The Implant: Worn under the skin, the birth control implant releases a version of progesterone called etonogestrel. It has a 99 percent effectiveness rate. [7]

Non-Hormonal Birth Control

There are also non-hormonal methods of birth control. These range from barrier methods, like a diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge, copper IUD, spermicides, or condoms, to surgical procedures, like sterilization via tubal ligation or vasectomy, to behavioral methods. These do not have an impact on your oral health. However, some are not as effective as hormonal methods at preventing pregnancy.

Hormones and Teeth are related too

Hormonal Imbalance Side Effects

Hormones are essential to managing body processes, like your metabolism, sexual function, sleep cycles, and mood. When they get out of whack, it can create wacky effects in your body. Hormonal imbalances can cause conditions like irregular periods, infertility, acne, and more serious ones like diabetes, thyroid disease, and obesity. [8]

Hormonal imbalances can cause serious side effects for women, including:[9]

  • Slow or rapid heartbeats
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Feeling tired
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or an increase in bowel movements
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands
  • High cholesterol
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Dry hair or skin
  • Irregular body fat distribution
  • Darkened skin or skin tags
  • Extreme thirst and overactive bladder

Imbalanced sex hormones have challenging effects on women, too:[10]

  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Heavy periods
  • Excess body hair
  • Hot flashes
  • Infertility
  • Irregular periods
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal atrophy


What Are the Side Effects of Birth Control on Oral Health?

Hormones and teeth are related, too. The critical influence is the hormone changes that occur with birth control methods like oral contraceptives. Changes in natural hormones change how your body responds to the plaque on your teeth and the blood supply to the gums. [11] Women might experience a few side effects in their mouths as a result of these hormonal changes, which can include:

Swollen Gums: The increased blood flow can cause the gums to appear red and swollen.

Gum Recession: When the gum tissue is infected, it pulls back from the teeth and wears away, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth's root. 

Dry Socket: A blood clot forms in the area after clinicians extract teeth. However, women on birth control are more likely to have that blood clot become dislodged, which can cause pain and complication after surgery. [12]

It is important to note that a study published in the Journal of Periodontology indicated that injectable birth control, or the birth control shot, had poor effects of birth control on gums, including inflammation, plaque build-up, and loss of gum tissue. The researchers found that when it comes to teeth and hormones, women who use the injectable Depo-Provera (Depot Medroxyprogesterone acetate, DMPA) have a much higher risk of periodontal conditions than women who had not ever used it. [13]

Why I tell my dentist I'm on birth control

Changing Hormones Effect on Oral Health

Research suggests that hormone changes contribute a lot to the deterioration of a woman's gum health. The increased blood flow that causes the gums to swell also makes them react to the plaque more, which leads to infection and gum disease. Gum disease is a serious condition that leads to gum recession and, if it is left to fester, tooth and bone loss[14]

Progesterone: One of the culprits for deteriorating gum health is progesterone. The hormone increases the body's response to plaque and bacteria in the woman's oral cavity, which leads to the inflamed gum tissue. It is particularly noticeable in the first few months after a woman takes birth control. [15]

Estrogen: Estrogen and gum disease are related, also. However, research also suggests that using birth control with synthetic estrogen means your body will not produce as much natural estrogen. When there is less natural estrogen in your system, it could affect your jaw joint (called the temporomandibular joint). Moreover, this effect builds upon itself, meaning the compression of the jaw joint affected by the changes in it and the lack of natural estrogen results in inflammation in the joint. Prolonged inflammation can mean the jaw joint develops osteoarthritis. [16]

Another Important Reason to Tell Your Dentist about Your Birth Control

In addition to the reasons above, there is another fundamental reason you should tell your doctor about what birth control you use. There are prescription antibiotics that you might need that decrease oral contraceptive effectiveness. In addition to the method you use, it would help your dental team to know the dosage of the hormones involved (which should be on the package or online if you don't already know). [17]

Find a Dentist Near You

Do you have more questions about how your birth control impacts what's going on in your mouth? We get it. Our Smile Generation-trusted team can help by assessing your oral health and health history to determine what can help you manage your oral healthcare to its best possible outcome. 

For more information or to find a Smile Generation-trusted dentist near you use our Find a Dentist Tool.

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[1] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/hormonal-methods-of-birth-control-directory?catid=1006

[2] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills

[3] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-depo-provera

[4] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vaginal-ring-birth-control

[5] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/iud-intrauterine-device

[6] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-transdermal-patches

[7] https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-implants-types-safety-side-effects

[8] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance

[9] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance

[10] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance

[11] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11192-hormones-and-oral-health

[12] https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/adult-oral-care/birth-control-side-effects-oral-health

[13] Taichman LS, Sohn W, Kolenic G, Sowers M. Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate use and periodontal health in 15- to 44-year-old US females. J Periodontol. 2012;83(8):1008-1017. doi:10.1902/jop.2012.110534

[14] Dutt P, Chaudhary S, Kumar P. Oral health and menopause: a comprehensive review on current knowledge and associated dental management. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2013;3(3):320-323. doi:10.4103/2141-9248.117926

[15] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11192-hormones-and-oral-health

[16] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11192-hormones-and-oral-health

[17] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11192-hormones-and-oral-health

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