Pregnancy and oral health is a topic that has gained significant discussion over the past few years. According to the American Dental Association, hormonal changes during pregnancy,—particularly increases in progesterone—can exaggerate the way your gum tissue reacts to plaque causing you complications with your oral health and requiring dedicated oral hygiene habits during and after pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis affects some pregnant women, usually during the second to eighth months of pregnancy. Our Niles Family Dentistry team is here to help you safeguard your oral health during and after pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Oral Health Changes: Gingivitis and Oral Tumors
Your body experiences so many changes during pregnancy and your mouth is not exempt from the effects of some of these changes. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk for developing oral health problems like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum disease). As a result of changes in your hormone levels, 40% of women will develop gingivitis sometime during their pregnancy–often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.
The increased level of progesterone during pregnancy makes you more prone to gingivitis-causing bacteria and makes gum tissue more sensitive to plaque. Pregnancy gingivitis is often trademarked by red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss. Pregnancy gingivitis should be taken seriously since, if left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis–a more serious form of gum disease that can have lasting, permanent effects.
Pay attention to changes in your mouth during pregnancy. If you notice any large lumps with red pinpoint markings near your gum line you may have an oral tumor. These oral tumors–often termed pregnancy tumors–may bleed, crust over and cause discomfort when eating or speaking. Now, while the word “tumor” conjures a host of different reactions and thoughts, don’t worry, oral tumors that form during pregnancy are common and not cancerous nor can they spread to others. A pregnancy tumor is an extreme inflammatory reaction to a local irritation (such as food particles or plaque) and occur in up to 10% of pregnant women, usually in the second trimester. Pregnancy tumors are often in women who also suffer from pregnancy gingivitis. These tumors can usually be left alone and will go away on their own after pregnancy, but if you find a tumor is too uncomfortable, or if it interferes with eating or practicing normal oral hygiene Dr. Niles may need to remove it.
Pregnancy and Oral Health Effects on Unborn Baby’s Health
Studies show that there is a link between gum disease and premature birth. The Journal of the American Dental Association published one study from researchers who had found that pregnant women with chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to deliver prematurely (before gestational week 37) and underweight babies than mothers with healthy gums. Mothers with the most severe periodontal disease delivered the most prematurely, at 32 weeks. Excess bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums and travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, which are suspected to induce premature labor. Though findings are inconclusive and further research is needed, we do know preventive dental care during pregnancy improves oral health and overall health and is safe for both mother and child.
Preventing Oral Health Problems
Most oral health problems during pregnancy can be prevented by increased efforts towards proper and thorough oral hygiene. Now more than ever, professional dental cleanings are particularly important. You can help prevent pregnancy gingivitis by working to keep your teeth clean through regular brushing–especially near the gumline. Plan on brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when possible. Floss thoroughly each day and use an antiplaque or fluoride mouthwash. If your morning sickness is so severe that you are unable to use toothpaste or mouthwashes in the morning, at the very least, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. More frequent cleanings from the dentist will reduce gum irritation, help you control plaque accumulation, prevent pregnancy gingivitis and lessen the likelihood of you developing pregnancy tumors.
Enlist Your Dentist Early for Pregnancy and Oral Health Success
The success of your oral health during pregnancy begins with involving your dentist early. If you know that you are planning on getting pregnant soon, or if you think you already are, make an appointment with Dr. Niles at our Boulder office as soon as you can. If you can, you should have all serious dental procedures or work done before you get pregnant. This is not always possible, but ideal. Schedule a check-up in your first trimester to determine whether you need a cleaning and so Dr. Niles can assess your current oral condition and help you predict how your mouth will handle the changes pregnancy will have on it. During this visit you can also plan together your oral treatment during pregnancy to make sure you are getting the extra attention your mouth will need. A visit to the dentist is also needed in the second trimester for a deep cleaning, to assess changes and to gauge the effectiveness of your oral hygiene routine. Depending on your needs, another appointment may be scheduled early in the third trimester, but these appointments are brief and not invasive.If you notice any changes in your mouth during pregnancy, call Niles Family Dentistry.
Call for a Consultation Today!
If you are pregnant your mouth needs more attention during this chapter of your life to promote total body wellness and oral health. Call Niles Family Dentistry today to make an appointment. Dr. Niles can talk to you about your particular needs and what steps to take at home to keep you and your mouth healthy throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Call today for a consultation at (720) 744-0001. Niles Family Dentistry serves the families of the Niwot, Longmont & Boulder communities. We look forward to meeting you and your family.