Did you know that it is common for women to experience some changes in their oral health during pregnancy? The changes are mainly due to a surge in hormones – particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone –- can exaggerate the way gum tissues react to plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed, it can cause a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. This condition affects most pregnant women to some degree, and generally begins to surface as early as the second month. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.
You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gum line. If brushing causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with antiplaque and fluoride mouthwashes. Good nutrition – particularly plenty of vitamin C and B12 – will help keep the oral cavity healthy and strong. In addition, more frequent cleanings from the dentist or hygienist will help control plaque and prevent gingivitis.
Research also suggests a link between preterm, low-birthweight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums. If this happens, the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, which are suspected to induce premature labor.
If you’re planning to become pregnant or suspect you’re pregnant, you should see a dentist right away. Otherwise, you should schedule a checkup in your first trimester for a cleaning. Your dentist will assess your oral condition and map out a dental plan for the rest of your pregnancy. A visit to the dentist also is recommended in the second trimester for a cleaning, to monitor changes and to gauge the effectiveness of your oral hygiene.
In this video, Deborah talks about how important dental hygiene is for your health, especially when you are expecting.