Dental care is important for everyone. But if you are pregnant, a healthy mouth takes on a whole new meaning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gingivitis affects 60 to 75 percent of pregnancies. If you already have red, swollen, or irritated gums, look at the top pregnancy-periodontal disease questions answered.
What’s the Pregnancy-Periodontal Disease Link?
Pregnancy hormones are change-makers in your body. Along with mood swings, thicker hair, and dewy skin, hormones can increase blood flow to the gums. This can result in inflammation, irritation, sensitivity, and easy-to-bleed gums.
The hormonal changes of pregnancy can also change the body’s response to infections. Gum disease happens when bacteria overrun the mouth and cause an infection. Decreased ability to fight off bacteria can increase the risk of periodontal disease.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
Do you have pregnancy-related gum disease? While some of the symptoms are noticeable, others may give you pause — but not complete concern. If your gums bleed once after you eat something sharp (such as a tortilla chip), you likely have an injury.
Even though this type of injury should heal on its own, you should pay extra attention to the area and call a medical provider at the first sign of infection. The increased blood flow to the gums and decreased ability to fight off bacteria may increase the chances that a simple scratch on your gums turns into something more serious.
Gum disease signs can range from minor beginning symptoms to severe red flags. Many periodontal disease patients experience redness, swelling, discomfort, and bleeding. If you notice blood when you brush, inflammation, or a foul taste in your mouth (with no other known cause) you may have gum disease.
When Should a Pregnant Women Visit the Dentist for Gum Disease?
A healthy mouth is part of a healthy pregnancy. This makes early detection and treatment of gum disease important. Pregnant women should continue to see their dentist on a regular visit schedule. If you don’t have a visit scheduled during your pregnancy, make an appointment as soon as possible — especially if you have bleeding, irritation, or any other periodontal symptom.
Why Shouldn’t Pregnant Women Ignore Gum Disease?
No one should ignore periodontal disease symptoms. Gingivitis can progress into a serious infection that leads to tissue or bone loss. Without an adequate amount of healthy tissue or the proper bone support, you could lose a tooth. Likewise, tissue and bone loss/infection may make extraction necessary.
In pregnancy, gum disease can cause problems beyond oral issues. The infection increases the risk of pre-term birth or a low birth-weight baby.
How Can You Stop Gum Disease?
If you already have the symptoms of gum disease, you can make changes — and now. A 2018 study in the journal Advances in Preventative Medicine found that pregnant women who brushed less often had a higher likelihood of having poor birth outcomes than those who brushed more.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Make sure to brush all areas of the mouth, and floss to get the in-between spaces. Brush after meals, if possible, too.
Again, a visit to the dentist is necessary. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment. If you have concerns about caring for your gums before the appointment day, ask the dental office staff for recommendations. Gum disease patients may need to visit the dentist more often for professional cleanings or check-ups during pregnancy.
Are you pregnant? Are your gums inflamed, red, or irritated? Contact the office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, for more information.