Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes several hormonal changes in your body. There can also be a change in the health of your mouth. An increase in estrogen and progesterone alter the way that your gum tissue reacts to the presence of plaque and oral bacteria. This change increases your risk for developing pregnancy-related gingivitis and periodontal disease. At Fusion Dental Specialists, we can help you to manage the health of your mouth to maintain your health, and your baby’s health, throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Related Gingivitis
When plaque, a sticky substance that collects on your teeth throughout the day, and oral bacteria build up in your mouth, they irritate your gum tissue. In response, your gums become red and inflamed and bleed when you brush or floss, a condition known as gingivitis. With the increase in estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy, many women develop gingivitis, often as early as the second month of pregnancy. If gingivitis goes untreated, it only gets worse. Your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, leaving pockets that bacteria fall into. The bacteria attack your periodontal ligaments and jawbone, weakening them.
How Periodontal Disease Affects Your Baby
Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect you. It also affects your unborn baby. Bacteria under the gum line can enter the bloodstream, and travel throughout the body, causing issues everywhere it goes, including the uterus. In the uterus, bacteria can trigger the production of chemicals known as prostaglandins, which have been linked to preterm labor. Periodontal disease has also been linked to low birthweight.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
You can prevent gingivitis, and therefore periodontal disease, by brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once every day. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help to keep your gums in good shape. Vitamins C and B12 are particularly good for gum health. Moreover, of course, regular dental cleanings and exams can help to spot any issues at the earliest stages so you can take action to prevent them from getting worse.
Along with an increased risk of gingivitis, pregnant women are also an increased risk for developing pregnancy tumors, or non-cancerous growths that develop between the teeth as the result of inflamed tissue becoming irritated. For the most part, these tumors can be left alone and will disappear after the birth of your baby. However, if they are causing you severe pain, and interfering with your ability to eat, brush and floss, we can remove them.
Should you avoid any dental procedures while pregnant?
Regular cleanings and exams can, and should, be done at any point in your pregnancy. Any non-emergency procedures should wait at least until your second trimester. X-rays should be limited to emergency situations. If you are faced with a dental emergency, treatment should be sought no matter what trimester you are in, but it is important that you communicate with your obstetrician, especially if you require anesthesia or medication. If you are planning on a cosmetic procedure, these should be postponed until after your baby’s birth. Some may need to be postponed longer if you plan to breastfeed.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, getting a dental exam and cleaning is important, for both your health and the health of your baby. Contact Fusion Dental Specialists today at (503) 653-9517 to schedule your appointment.