About half mothers to be are likely to suffer from gum diseases during pregnancy. As a result of hormonal changes and a relatively poor dental hygiene, gums tend to be excessively sensitive during pregnancy, causing problems like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum disease). Saliva, food and bacteria form a coating on your teeth called plaque and makes your gums prone to bleeding. The gums become red and swollen and may exhibit extreme sensitivity. Vomiting during pregnancy also makes the acids from the stomach corrode the teeth. If the gums are left without cleaning then they start affecting bones and can cause periodontitis. This condition can lead to an early labor or a poor birth weight of the baby, making pregnancy all the more complicated. Infact women who are already struggling with dental problems may just feel that pregnancy has made them worse.
Symptoms of Gum Diseases
Gum inflammation generally strikes between the 2nd and 8th month of a pregnancy. Usual symptoms of gum diseases are red gums that may bleed when you brush, severe sensitivity and pain. These symptoms can further aggravate to swelling and bleeding of a gum tissue .
Some of the common symptoms of gum diseases during pregnancy include:
- Gum inflammation, redness and soreness
- Bad mouth odour or taste develops
- Tooth ache
- Growth of any kind in the mouth – could indicate formation of a pregnancy tumor – which is infact a strong term for a harmless inflammatory reaction to local irritation. They generally disappear post pregnancy, or may need a small surgical removal in few cases
The increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy puts pregnant women at a higher risk of developing dental problems as it causes an exaggerated response to plaque bacteria. Gingivitis is common in women during months 2 to 8 of pregnancy, and even though you may follow a healthy oral care routine, you still run at a risk of developing gingivitis during pregnancy. It is much advisable to see a dentist prior to conception, however, if you miss out on that then you need to tell your dentist when you conceive- so that he can schedule your appointments accordingly. Dental cleanings during the second or early third trimester will help you deal with gingivitis.
Causes of Gum Diseases During Pregnancy
There are several reasons, which can result into poor dental health. Here are some of those:
- Improper oral hygiene allows bacteria in plaque and calculus to remain on the teeth and infect the gums
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy causes gum tissues to react more severely to foreign matter
- Stress during pregnancy can also trigger formation of bacteria
- High carbohydrates and improper food nutrition or intake of more sugary food causes gingivitis. And during the time of pregnancy the common causes of dental heath problems are cravings for sugary products, vomiting and retching while brushing teeth
Gum Diseases and Premature Birth
Significant studies have shown a link between poor dental hygiene and premature birth. Researchers of one study who published their results in The Journal of the American Dental Association 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.(Source: Webmd.com).
However, it is not yet been established if treating gum diseases reduces the risk of premature or low weight birth.
Prevention of Tooth Decay During Pregnancy
The bottom rule is that you should follow good dental hygiene to avoid or mitigate oral health issues. Here is a gist of certain pregnancy-related problems that can adversely affect your dental hygiene.
- Morning Sickness- Morning sickness or feeling of nausea in the morning can keep some expectant mothers away from brushing. Using bland tasting toothpaste can simplify your discomfort. Rinse mouth with either water or mouth rinse if you suffer from vomiting or morning sickness
- Eat Right- Eat right type of food to keep your teeth and your baby healthy. Shun sugary snacks and drink a lot of water, dairy foods such as yoghurt, cheese and milk. Dairy products are rich in essential minerals and are helpful in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Dental issues in pregnancy require care and concern
- Dental cleanings in pregnancy should be done only at the hands of an expert dentist. Rising levels of hormones during pregnancy can cause gums to swell, trap food and even bleed. Taking vitamin C can treat the condition
- If you require dental work like crowns or cavity fillings, get it done during second trimester. Postpone all unnecessary or cosmetic dental work till delivery. Only emergency dental work such as tooth extraction or root canal can be done during pregnancy. After all it is best to put developing baby to any risk however minimal it is
- A daily oral care regime is a huge must. Brushing twice and flossing atleast before going to bed really helps
- Avoid food cravings that make you head the sweet way
- Use a solution of salt in warm water to rinse your teeth
- Avoid fizzy and sugary drinks
- Never brush your teeth after vomiting, instead rub some toothpaste on the teeth to freshen up
A balanced diet, a good oral care routine and a bit of awareness can help you atleast deal with gum problems , if not prevent it. Happy Pregnancy!