Pregnant? What You Need to Know About Dental Care

Dental care should be an important part of a pregnant woman’s prenatal plan

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With all the things going on in a woman’s body during pregnancy, gingivitis may not be on the radar of a mother-to-be…especially when she’s taken such care in her overall health. Compared to the other changes, gingivitis (i.e. gum disease) may be low on the priority list, but it does pose some risk, particularly in the second trimester. To keep healthy gums during pregnancy, special attention to dental care should be an important part of a woman’s prenatal care plan.

What is pregnancy gingivitis?

Pregnancy gingivitis is a non-destructive periodontal disease, or an inflammation of the gums affecting about half of all pregnant women. Caused by an increase in hormone levels, pregnancy gingivitis exacerbates the body’s response to bacteria in the mouth causing dental plaque to form on tooth surface. This extra plaque may cause swelling, bleeding, redness and gum tenderness, and if not treated, can lead to tooth decay, bone loss around the teeth or tooth loss.

Though rare, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called prostaglandins, which can increase the chance for low-birthweight, pre-term delivery and gestational diabetes. Excessive bacteria building up in pockets between inflamed gums and teeth can enter the bloodstream, travel to the uterus and potentially trigger premature labor. According to some studies, it places pregnant women at greater risk for preterm birth than alcohol consumption or smoking.

Prevent gingivitis with good oral hygiene

To control the amount of plaque in your mouth and prevent gingivitis, brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day for two minutes and floss daily, especially after meals, to reduce the bacteria that can lead to pregnancy gingivitis. Morning sickness can increase bacteria, so brushing often is important.

It’s also important for women who are pregnant to maintain dental checkups and cleaning schedules. While you might be tempted to delay your next dental appointment due to a busy obstetrics schedule, this is not the time to miss seeing your dentist.

In fact, Dr. Chen recommends making an appointment as soon as possible after confirming a pregnancy to ensure a healthy mouth and gums. As with any other medical appointment, tell your dental team about your pregnancy and the trimester you’re in before a checkup begins. Our office is family focused, so we’ll be excited to hear the good news, but we may also want to make special accommodations to ensure your comfort.

How to reverse gingivitis

In most cases, gum disease is easily preventable by keeping to basic oral health routines. But the second trimester is when gingivitis can sneak up on an unsuspecting pregnant woman. If you’re experiencing swollen, tender gums, you may be able to revers it by following these steps:

  • Visit Pine Lake Family Dentistry immediately and at least once during your pregnancy for a full checkup. Best to visit us early in your second trimester when your growing belly is likely to feel more comfortable.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, especially if you’re prone to morning sickness.
  • Try to floss every day, ideally after meals.
  • Use a daily warm salt water rinse to remove bacteria and sooth swollen gums.
  • Eat healthy foods with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein.

If treated, your gums should return to normal following delivery of your baby. Contact our office if swelling and bleeding worsens during pregnancy. We’ll work with your obstetrician to create a safe and effective treatment plan—essential for combating adverse effects of gum disease during pregnancy.

Do you have your next appointment scheduled? Call us today to set it up.

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