Tips for Healthy Teeth & Gums During Pregnancy

woman have dental bonding

Pregnancy is an extraordinary time in a woman’s life, but surging hormones – especially progesterone and estrogen – can induce a type of prenatal-gingivitis that causes soreness, bleeding and swelling in the gums. According to WebMD, an estimated 40% of women develop gingivitis at some point during their pregnancy, which is why professional dental cleanings are essential during these nine months.

Expecting a child comes with many responsibilities, and maintaining good oral hygiene is no exception. It’s important to understand that routine dental checkups are completely safe during pregnancy, as long as you communicate any special medical considerations or medications with your dentist. In fact, your dentist may suggest repeated cleanings at shorter intervals to help prevent and control pregnancy-gingivitis.

Hormone changes & pregnancy gingivitis

The hormone progesterone spikes dramatically during pregnancy, which enables gingivitis-causing bacteria to multiply more easily. Pregnant women may notice that their gum tissue is more sensitive than normal, and that even the smallest amount of plaque build-up can make the gingival tissue red and inflamed.  Women who already have some degree of minor gum disease before becoming pregnant may find that their symptoms worsen quickly as progesterone levels rise.

Some of the common signs include:

  • Gums that bleed easily while brushing or flossing
  • Moderate to severe swelling of the gum tissue
  • Gums that are a deep red color

Pregnancy hormone changes hamper the body’s normal ability to fight off bacteria, which leaves moms-to-be more prone to periodontal infections. In most cases, pregnancy-related gingivitis becomes evident by the second trimester. If left unchecked, gum disease may progress rapidly into a condition known as periodontitis, which may increase the chance of delivering a preterm baby.

However, with proper oral hygiene, regular flossing and routine dental cleanings, expecting moms should have little to worry about.

Tips to keep teeth & gums healthy while pregnant

Because some research has shown a link between pregnancy gingivitis and pre-term, low birth weight babies, it’s vital to keep your gums and teeth healthy and free of excess bacteria which can travel through the bloodstream and into the uterus.

Here are some tips to prevent gingivitis while pregnant:

  • Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day, but preferably after all meals
  • Use an antimicrobial mouth wash or rinse with diluted salt water
  • Have regular dental cleanings
  • Adhere to a nutritious diet, following your physician’s advice
  • Always rinse your mouth or brush after experiencing morning sickness

Dental x-rays during pregnancy

A lot of women may be concerned about getting X-rays while pregnant. Rest assured that dental X-rays can be safely performed during pregnancy. X-rays are much safer today than in previous decades, and protective shields are placed over the abdomen to prevent unnecessary exposure to the developing baby.

While emergency dental treatments and routine cleanings are encouraged, pregnant women should reserve elective cosmetic dental procedures, such as porcelain veneers, laser tooth whitening or gum contouring, until after the delivery.

To learn more about oral health during pregnancy, we invite you to schedule a free consultation at Long Island Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliott, who specialize in general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, have a long track record of satisfied patients throughout Suffolk County.

Call us today at 631-296-0609 to request a consultation.

Resources:

  1. WebMD, Dental Care and Pregnancy http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-care-pregnancy
  2. MouthHealthy.org, What to Expect for Your Oral Health http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy-slideshow
  3. AmericanPregnancy.org, Swollen Gums During Pregnancy (Also Known As Pregnancy Gingivitis) http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/swollen-gums-during-pregnancy/

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Ava Lawson

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