We want to offer our congratulations to anyone who may be pregnant. Whether you are preparing for your first baby or your fifth, we hope that you are making your health a priority.
That includes your oral health, and one particular concern to keep in mind is that you may be more likely to develop gum disease during your pregnancy.
You are probably much more aware than we can describe of the hormonal changes affecting your body during this time. One of the unfortunate side effects of those changes is the way they can affect your oral health.
We hope you won’t experience any of those problems, but if you do, the team at Legacy Smiles will be here, at our dentist office in Billings, MT, to help get your mouth back to being healthy.
How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Gums
When you are pregnant, your body produces more progesterone. This hormone helps your body adapt to your pregnancy. That is good.
However, those aren’t the only effects. Progesterone also makes it easier for certain bacteria to grow, like the ones that cause gum disease.
That’s not the only reason you are more likely to develop gum problems at this time.
Your gum tissue may become more sensitive to the plaque that could be growing in your mouth.
You may also find that your response to the toxins in plaque is more noticeable. That is to say, you may experience stronger symptoms if you have gum disease during pregnancy than during other times.
What You Should Watch For
Gingivitis is considered a mild form of gum disease. If you do develop periodontal disease, you can reverse the condition quicker if you take action during this stage.
The symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Gums that are redder than usual
- Gums that are more swollen than usual
- Gums that bleed easily, such as while you are brushing or flossing
An estimated 40 percent of women develop gingivitis during their pregnancies.
The American Academy of Periodontology recommends a comprehensive periodontal evaluation for all women during their pregnancies. A dentist or hygienist can perform this evaluation, which may reduce your chances of developing complications.
Gum Disease And Low Birth Weight
The connection between gum disease and healthy birth weight may not seem apparent, but there does appear to be a correlation between the two. This does not mean that gum disease causes low birth weight, but it could be an indication of other potential problems.
Women who develop gum disease were found to be up to seven times more likely to deliver a child with low birth weight and to deliver prematurely, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association. A child is considered to have a low birth weight if he or she weighs 5.5 pounds or less at birth, according to the Centers For Disease Control.
It’s also worth noting that dental and medical professionals agree on the importance of maintaining your oral health during your pregnancy.
Keeping Your Gums Healthy
The best approach to keeping your mouth as healthy as possible during your pregnancy is to practice good preventive care.
This involves the same three steps that you should follow at any time. They are just more important at this time in your and your baby’s lives.
Remember to brush your teeth at least twice per day. Brush for two minutes each time. Scrub your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized squeeze of fluoride toothpaste.
Remember to floss your teeth or use another interdental cleaner at least once daily.
Cleaning between your teeth is essential to removing the plaque and bacteria in places that you can’t reach with a toothbrush. Whether you use dental floss, a water pick, or another cleaning tool, try your best to make it a routine habit.
Last but not least, visit Legacy Smiles for a routine cleaning and examination. Our hygienists and our dentist will make sure your teeth are clean. We will watch for signs of gum disease, and if we spot it, we will do everything we can to remove it.
We want you and your baby to be happy on the day he or she comes into the world. If you have any concerns about your oral health, please call or come by our dentist office in Billings, MT, for help.
We wish you and your baby a healthy arrival and a healthy life together.