Pregnant women have a 65-70% chance of developing gingivitis during pregnancy. Gingivitis is the name for the first stage of gum disease, and the excess bacteria produced in the mouth during pregnancy makes it a significant threat. But this threat isn’t just relegated to the mouth.
The health of the gums has a powerful effect on the overall health of the individual. Left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can even affect the birth weight of your child. Understanding the effects of pregnancy gingivitis will give you a solid chance at mitigating its harmful symptoms.
How Is Pregnancy Related To Dental Health?
Although it may seem random that pregnancy would be a leading cause of gingivitis, there are a lot of different factors that can affect the health of your teeth and gums. The hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy wreak havoc on the body, manifesting as an increase in bacteria in the mouth. This excess bacteria also boosts the amount of plaque on the teeth, causing painful gum problems associated with gingivitis.
Gums Are Closely Connected To Overall Health
The health of the gums is often indicative of the overall health of the body. This is most evident in the fact that gum disease can cause hypertension, heart problems and other ailments throughout the body. An alarming statistic that shows the relationship between gum health and pregnancy states that women affected by pregnancy gingivitis are 6 times more likely to have low-birth weight babies. Clearly, this illustrates the importance of gum health, especially in pregnant women.
3 Ways Pregnancy Causes Gingivitis
Chaotic hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy are the main reason women develop gingivitis while carrying a child. However, two other conditions of pregnancy increase the risk of gingivitis as well. Understanding the 3 main ways that pregnancy affects your dental health can give you an advantage in avoiding the symptoms.
1. Hormonal changes
Pregnancy causes hormones like progesterone and estrogen to change rapidly, increasing blood flow to the gums. This gives the appearance of swollen, inflamed gums, but the increase in bacteria is the most serious problem. Extra bacteria in your mouth due to surging hormones causes more plaque to stick to your teeth, which negatively impacts your oral health. Often, countering this increase in bacteria with extra oral care sessions is a reliable way to manage the condition.
2. Intense Cravings
A secondary way that pregnancy influences oral health is by causing intense cravings for unhealthy foods. The most obvious culprits are foods that are desert-oriented and high in sugar, but carbohydrates like bread are also detrimental to oral health. Women who are able to manage their cravings and direct them towards healthier alternatives will have a better chance of success at retaining healthy gums.
3. Morning Sickness
The condition known as morning sickness affects 75% of pregnant women, typically in the early phases of their pregnancy. Morning sickness is characterized by vomiting, an act that drenches the teeth in stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Both the enzymes and acids from the stomach rapidly eat away at the enamel of the teeth. The best way to combat damage to the teeth due to morning sickness is to brush frequently, especially after vomiting.
3 Ways To Keep Your Gums Healthy While Pregnant
While 70% of women may get gingivitis during pregnancy, your choices and actions can keep it from getting worse. Here are 3 suggestions that will keep your pregnancy gingivitis at bay and ensure that your dental health doesn’t needlessly suffer:
1. Emphasize Effective Oral Care
Brushing twice per day is a basic hygiene habit that is taught to us from an early age, but when pregnant, it’s exponentially more important. Missing a brushing opportunity when pregnant can allow large amounts of bacteria to gather on your teeth and gums. Instead, ensure that no oral care session gets skipped and that you brush effectively for 2 minutes each time.
2. Choose Good Dental Foods
Certain foods like candies get a bad reputation for how destructive they are for your teeth, but did you know that some are actually beneficial for your oral health? Many of the foods that are great for your teeth offer some excellent health advantages as well. Here are some snack options that you can choose that will clear away the plaque and boost the strength of your teeth:
- Leafy greens
- Sharp cheddar cheese
Whether it’s the fibrous nature of carrots or the vitamin rich power of leafy greens, making smart dietary decisions can keep you safe from gingivitis.
3. Control Your Cravings
If your food cravings are guiding you towards unhealthy decisions, finding substitutes for the troublesome foods may be the simplest solution. If you do choose to indulge in cravings for foods that are tough on your teeth, remember to brush and floss afterward to minimize damage.
Call Dr. Dale Spadafora With Your Unique Dental Concerns
Pregnant women have a specific set of dental concerns, but ultimately every patient’s circumstances are unique. Other conditions you have elsewhere in your body may affect your oral care, and the ideal way to treat them may differ between patients. As a Master in Dentistry, Dr. Dale Spadafora is familiar with the many factors that affect oral care and can prescribe the appropriate treatment that matches your needs. Contact our office today to find out how!