Why are my gums sensitive once a month?
September 21, 2011 8:13 AM   Subscribe

YANMD but about once a month a week before my period, my gums are sensitive. I have very good oral hygiene so this bothers me. Obviously it is likely to be hormonal but what can I do about it?
posted by turtlefu to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to any hormonal aspects but my receding gums are much less sensitive/bleedy after switching to a toothbrush that has those rubber fingers in it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:46 AM on September 21, 2011

I learned recently that other mucus membranes in addition to the uterus, shed a layer during menstruation. This explains why my tongue gets all weirdly white just before my period, and I wonder if it relates to your gums being sensitive, too.

I don't have any good suggestions for what to do about it, though.
posted by rosa at 8:52 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

My wife had sore gums during her pregnancy, which she learned was a mild form of Pregnancy Gingivitis. I'd say consult your OBGYN and dentist.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on September 21, 2011

There's some conflicting research about how hormone fluctuations affect pain response. It might not just be your gums, your gums might just be the part that you notice. In order to confirm you're going to need a calender, a pen, and a pin. (Of course it's not going to be a blind trial, but... we do the best we can.)

I assume you're already using the softest toothbrush available... You could try using a water pik instead of flossing.
posted by anaelith at 10:07 AM on September 21, 2011

If your oral hygiene is good (and this isn't due to some kind of gum disease), is there any reason why you can't just take an ibuprofen or two when your gums get sore?
posted by Jemstar at 10:41 AM on September 21, 2011

Rosa, can you point us to a link? That is fascinating and I've never heard any mention of that before.
posted by stormygrey at 12:00 PM on September 21, 2011

My gums are more prone to bleeding right before my period when they are otherwise fine (doesn't happen every month though). I floss and/or use a water pic EVERY night without fail and have regular cleanings, but still my gums are sometime a bit more sensitive at that time of month. It is a known "thing" although I can't find a reputable link. However, in the past where a scheduled-6-months-in-advance dental cleaning coincides with the week before my period, I'll mention it to the hygienist because I know that my gums will bleed more than they would otherwise. She has always replied that this was pretty common.
posted by kaybdc at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2011

I'm the same way. I also am much more prone to canker sores and accidentally biting my cheek or tongue. It's super annoying and always precedes my period. It's so magical being a girl!
posted by amanda at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2011

This is fascinating. Nthing the request for citations or pointers to places to read more about it.
posted by Lexica at 6:11 PM on September 21, 2011

Women's hormones and oral health (WebMD):
Women may be more susceptible to oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes they experience. Hormones not only affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also the body's response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque build up. As a result of these changes, women are more prone to the development of periodontal disease at certain stages of their lives as well as to other oral health problems.
Tips to Prevent Oral Health Problems

Some tips for preventing oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay include:

* Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Floss at least once a day.
* Visit your dentist twice a year for a professional oral examination and cleaning.
* Eat a well balanced diet.
* Avoid sugary or starchy snacks.
* Ask your dentist if he or she thinks you should use an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
* If you have dry mouth, ask your dentist about treatments for this condition, such as artificial saliva. Biotene is one such product and is available over the counter.
Nothing groundbreaking in the tips section, but there you have it. And there's more in the link about potential hormone changes throughout a woman's life (Puberty, The monthly menstrual cycle, Use of birth control pills, Pregnancy and Menopause)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2011

I am glad I'm not the only one but the thing is my teeth and gums are in great shape. I brush and floss daily. I seen the dentist every six months and they have no concerns. I am wondering if diet can affect it? hmm...
posted by turtlefu at 9:31 AM on September 23, 2011

stormygrey, I don't have a citation -- I learned it at a kissing workshop I attended this winter!
posted by rosa at 4:45 AM on September 24, 2011

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