The following information was written by Dr. Minsk and published on various internet web-sites.
Menstrual Cycle Changes
Hormonal fluctuations that are normal during specific times in a woman’s life can have a tremendous effect on the oral
cavity. Such is the case with the hormonal changes observed during the monthly menstrual cycle. Changes in the oral
cavity are most often experienced a few days before menstruation, when progesterone levels are high. Progesterone
causes dilation of the blood vessels, resulting in inflammation and an obstruction in the normal repair mechanisms of the
gums. The result is red, swollen gums that may bleed easily and become painful. These changes can be more severe if
there is pre-existing periodontal disease.
These changes occur as an exaggerated response to bacterial plaque and irritants. If the condition doesn’t resolve soon
after menstruation, a dental care provider should evaluate it. Women that experience changes in their gums during their
menstrual cycle may be more susceptible to Rapid Progressive Periodontitis, a particularly aggressive form of periodontal
disease in which there is rapid and accelerated bone loss around the teeth.
A few days before the menstrual cycle, some women also experience an activation of cold sores (herpes labialis). These
sores crop up on the lips and usually heal by themselves within fifteen days. Although treatment is not required, if they are
painful, they can be treated with topical ointments to help ease the discomfort.
Aphthous ulcers may also become active during the days before the menstrual cycle. These ulcers occur on the soft tissue
inside the mouth also take about fifteen days to heal. Topical anesthetic ointments may be applied to the ulcers if they are
painful. Severe aphthous ulcers may need to be treated with topical corticosteroids.
Some women may also experience swelling of the salivary glands. The parotid salivary gland on the cheeks is most often
affected. If the swelling is related to the hormonal changes experienced during the menstrual cycle, the changes are
temporary and should reverse within a few days.
The oral changes related to the menstrual cycle are transient and should reverse after a few days. If they don’t, treatment
could include scaling and root planing and reinforcement of oral hygiene instructions. Antimicrobial mouth rinses may also
be indicated. Because most of these changes are due to an exaggerated response to the amount of existing plaque buildup
or to pre-existing gum problems, meticulous oral hygiene is critical to prevent exacerbations. Your dental care provider can
help you identify these problems and help treat them so as to minimize their negative effects on the oral tissues.
SWARTHMORE DENTAL ASSOCIATES
Nikolaos D. Karellos, D.M.D. | prosthodontist
Laura Minsk, D.M.D. | periodontist
Nikolaos D. Karellos, D.M.D.
Laura Minsk, D.M.D.
801 Yale Ave.
Swarthmore, PA 19081