Oral contraceptives and the periodontium

Philip M. Preshaw (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Oral contraceptives are a safe and effective means of contraception for millions of women worldwide. The first formulations of these drugs contained much higher doses of estrogens and progestins than those available today, and these were associated with an unacceptably high rate of unwanted effects including serious cardiovascular events. In addition, a number of case reports and clinical studies suggested that use of the first generation oral contraceptives was also associated with an increased risk for gingival and/or periodontal disease. Unfortunately, many of these early studies suffered from significant methodological flaws which throw their findings into question. Nonetheless, these studies provided the basis for a perception among the dental profession that oral contraceptives increase the risk for gingivitis and/or periodontitis. Realisation that the adverse events profile of oral contraceptives was dose dependant led to the development of the modern low dose formulations that are in use today. There have been far fewer studies to investigate whether modern oral contraceptives have any impact on the periodontium compared to studies of the early contraceptive formulations, but the quality of the more recent research is undoubtedly better. Following extensive review of the relevant literature and consideration of the historical perspective, the best available evidence strongly supports that oral contraceptives no longer place users at any increased risk for gingivitis or periodontitis. Oral contraceptives should not be viewed as a risk factor for gingival or periodontal disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-159
Number of pages35
JournalPeriodontology 2000
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2012


  • Oral contraceptives
  • Periodontium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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