Women experience a lot physiological and emotional changes during the pregnancy which results from an increased level of hormones in the female body. These hormones regulate many aspects of the female body. Even more surprising to some is the fact that these hormonal changes can have a profound adverse effect on your oral health. Sudden and rapid increase in estrogen and progesterone levels can dilate the blood vessels present in your gums, which makes them more sensitive to bacteria found in plaque.
Pregnant women experience redness and swelling in the gums, the gums become prone to bleeding when brushing or flossing due to extra sensitivity. This condition is known as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’, similar symptoms can be experienced with the usage of birth control pills as they contain synthetic progesterone.
Another ‘rare but there’ effect of hormonal imbalance are pregnancy tumors which result from excessive growth of gum tissue resulting in small berry colored lumps along the gum line or in between your teeth. They are more a visual distraction and are completely harmless otherwise.
The aforementioned irregularities and symptoms disappear within a few months of giving birth; however, if you still experience gum inflammation then you should be more thorough with oral hygiene during pregnancy.
Why It Matters
The hormonal imbalance associated with pregnancy is not the culprit when it comes to gingivitis. Most problems stem from improper oral health care. The accumulation of plaque is the real cause of concern as it provides breeding ground for bacteria, which ultimately causes tooth decay. For the sake of your baby and your own health, it is best that you be thorough with your oral health. Gingivitis, if not taken care of properly, has the potential to snowball into a more serious gum disease known as periodontitis- a bacterial infection that attacks both the gums and the jawbone. It can cause severe bone loss; you may consequently even lose your teeth.
Studies have suggested that there is a positive correlation between gum disease and preterm delivery. Although the reasons behind the link are inconclusive, empirical evidence dictates that bacteria found in plaque can reach the placenta and trigger inflammation, which causes the substances to be released into the bloodstream, which may even induce labor prematurely.
What You Can Do
Eating right is the first and foremost preventative measure that you can take. Cravings are high and often times incontrollable during pregnancy. However, vigilance and self-control goes a long way during these testing times and do not forget to brush after every time you give into your cravings.
Oral hygiene is of tantamount importance. Make sure you floss and brush your teeth at least twice a day. If you are sick and throwing up regularly, make sure you do not brush your teeth immediately after you vomit as the acid produced by the stomach will have weakened the enamel and further brushing will erode it even more. Best if you rinse your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water, which will help neutralize the exposure to acid.
Make sure that you visit your oral hygienist regularly. Professional cleanings are extremely safe and hygienic, and in addition to nice looking smile and teeth, a visit to a professional can also lead to early diagnosis of more severe oral diseases.