Birth Control and Dental Health
Birth control is an integral part of many women’s lives. The newer method of receiving a birth control shot (DMPA) every Three (3) months versus taking a pill every day has become a convenient way of birth control for many women.
Depo-Provera is the most well known and used DPMA. This contraceptive is injected into a woman’s muscle every three months.
DMPA works to prevent pregnancy in three different ways:
1) Prevents ovaries from releasing eggs.
2) Thickens cervical mucus to act as a barrier preventing sperm from reaching the egg.
3) Changes the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation.
Birth Control Research Study Findings
New studies have shown, that there are some dental health risks involved with the DMPA shot. The study has found a possible link between injectable progesterone contraceptives (Depotmedrooxyprogesterone acetate-DMPA) and periodontal disease.
The researchers examined about 4,500 participants ranging in age from 15 to 44. These patients were confirmed to not be pregnant and all reported receiving DMPA shots in the past or never having received the contraceptive shot.
About 4% of the research participants were currently using the Depo Provera shot, and about 12% had used it in the past. All the participants were thoroughly examined by a dentist. The dentist recorded gum tissue health indicators, such as presence of bleeding gums, any gingival recession, as well as periodontal probing to measure bone levels surrounding the teeth.
Bone loss, periodontal pockets, and gingival recession are hallmark signs of periodontal disease.
Researchers found that those currently taking DMPA injections were about 73% more likely to have gingivitis,( Gum inflammation and bleeding, without periodontal bone loss). Those women who had previously used DMPA also had a slightly higher incidence of gingivitis but the level of risk was not significant enough to prove an association.The researchers also found that Hispanic and Black women were 30-50% more likely to have some form of periodontal disease. Women of lower economic levels or who had not visited the dentist within the past two years also had a higher rate of periodontal disease.
The researchers believe that the hormones played a major role in the presence of periodontal disease. Women receiving any hormone based contraceptive (like DMPA) injections need to pay extra attention to their teeth and gums to help prevent periodontal disease. This should include regular dental visits along with professional cleanings every 3-6 months.
Periodontal Disease Impacts your Whole Body
This research has once again shown, a definite link between periodontal disease and your overall health. When your mouth becomes diseased it does not remain contained there. When periodontal disease advances, toxins are released into your bloodstream. These toxins promote inflammation and can have a negative impact on your heart and other organs. This combination of bacteria and inflammation has been linked to a number of chronic diseases. These include:
–Heart Disease. People with periodontal disease are actually almost twice as likely to have heart disease.
–Diabetes. Periodontal disease is considered a definite complication of diabetes. Patients with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than those without. According to the Journal of Periodontology, not only does having diabetes increase the risk of periodontal disease but it also increases blood sugar which will lead to diabetic complications including problems with healing.
–Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease are both chronic inflammatory processes. It has been found that treating periodontal disease has reduced the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
–Cancer. Periodontal disease has been linked to several different cancers including pancreatic, kidney, and blood cancers.
–Other disease links include Alzheimer’s Disease, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Disease, Pregnancy complications (premature birth and low birth weight), and Osteoporosis.
What to Do If You Take a Progesterone Contraceptive?
See your dentist more often, ( every 3-4 months) and amp up your home care. More frequent cleanings, and flossing after meals will help prevent complications and the advancement of periodontal disease. The sooner the problem is detected, the better your chances are at reversing the disease process through professional cleanings and proper oral hygiene. If periodontal disease progresses it can be treated. Most often, a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing will start the healing process. In more severe cases, periodontal disease surgery may be required. Remember to ask your dentist and hygienist for better brushing and flossing techniques, and ask them how often you should be seen for cleanings.