Common dental issues in pregnancy
Pregnancy brings about many changes in your body, but one which you may not necessarily expect – is a change to your oral health. If you think you are pregnant, or actively trying, you should let your dentist know, since you may need to postpone some treatments.
Changing hormone levels also heighten the risk of a number of conditions, including gum swelling and bleeding, ‘pregnancy tumors’ and tooth decay. Meanwhile, issues like periodontitis and serious tooth decay can increase the risk of premature birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
Here are some common dental health issues to be aware of during pregnancy:
- Pregnancy and Gingivitis – Inflammation and bleeding of the gums (gingivitis) is common during pregnancy. Changes in hormone levels can cause increased blood circulation to the gum area. These changes can also make it easier for plaque to build up on the gumline, increasing the likelihood of bacterial infection. It is important to take good care of your gums even before getting pregnant, brushing and flossing at least twice a day (or more), and visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning. Use a salt water rinse to keep gums clean during pregnancy, and try to consume a healthy diet without refined, sugary foods and sweets that promote plaque buildup. Because some medications can be harmful during pregnancy, it is best to avoid infection altogether.
- Pregnancy and Tooth Decay – Because plaque can build up more easily on gums and teeth, decay can also arise. Morning sickness (which can include bouts of vomiting) can also promote caries, because it creates an acidic environment that erodes tooth enamel. Oral problems are not only a problem for mothers, but for the baby as well, since issues like periodontitis and serious tooth decay increase the risk of premature birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia – a dangerous condition characterized by high blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine, and swelling in the extremities.
- Pregnancy Tumors – Some women develop non-cancerous lumps misleadingly called ‘pregnancy tumors’, which are not actually dangerous. These tiny lumps form between teeth and appear most often during the second trimester. Also called ‘pyogenic granuloma’, they can bleed easily and cause discomfort. Your dentist may recommend removal, but if they do not bother you and you wish to wait, you will find that these lumps disappear on their own once you have given birth.
- Looser Teeth – Teeth can become loose during pregnancy even if your gums are healthy, owing to higher levels of progesterone and estrogen, which affect the ligaments that support teeth. Once again, this condition is temporary and does not lead to tooth loss. See your dentist if loose teeth are causing discomfort to ensure that movement is simply hormone-related.
*This is an abridged version of an article from Dental News