If you’ve decided to take birth control pills, you’ll want to let your dentist know.

Oral contraceptives cause hormonal changes in the body, which can increase your body’s inflammatory response. Gums can become swollen and bleed more easily (gingivitis). The bacteria that causes periodontal disease feeds off the increased progesterone in the body. However, lower hormone dosages in many of today’s oral contraceptives may decrease this risk.

Some studies show an increase in saliva flow while others show a decrease. If you notice changes, discuss them with your dentist. There is indication of an increased chance of getting dry socket after wisdom teeth are removed.

If your dentist prescribes an antibiotic, it’s important to know they lower the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. You’ll want a back up plan in place.

Here’s What You Can Do:

If you are taking birth control pills:

  1. Be sure to have annual dental exams and cleanings;
  2. Use proper brushing and flossing techniques;
  3. Be sure to eat foods that fight inflammation (eggs, soy, yogurt, unsweetened milk & yogurt, raw honey, most vegetables, non-acidic fruit).

Dr. Damian Dachowski is a family dentist and owner of d3dentistry in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina