Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it's likely that you or someone close to you is pregnant. Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, including changes related to your oral health. These are primarily due to a surge in hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These same hormones which are integral to your growing baby can exaggerate the way your gums react to plaque.
If plaque is not properly removed, it can cause gingivitis - marked by swollen, red gums which are more likely to bleed. You may notice an increase of bleeding from brushing or flossing. There’s a condition referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis” which affects most pregnant women and can begin as early as the second month. If you have gingivitis prior to becoming pregnant, your condition is likely to worsen. If left untreated, this can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease and, because it is incurable, it will continue to affect you long after pregnancy.
Occasionally, women also develop inflammatory, non-cancerous growths when their gums become irritated while pregnant. These growths, called “pregnancy tumors”, are usually harmless and can be left alone. They will generally reduce in size, until they disappear completely, after birth. If you have a tumor that is uncomfortable or interferes with your hygiene routine or chewing, let us know. Dr. Kivel may decide to remove it.
Of course, we recommend excellent oral hygiene at all stages of life. But we understand that pregnancy creates additional risks and additional motivation for staying healthy. During this time, you’ll want to keep your teeth very clean, especially near the gumline. Brush at least twice a day, and after every meal if possible. For some women, brushing can contribute to feelings of morning sickness. If this happens to you, rinse your mouth with water or with anti-plaque mouthwashes and brush when you can. Floss thoroughly each day.
Feel free to book more frequent than normal cleanings with Soulsmile at this time to supplement your own efforts.
“Can gingivitis affect my baby?”
Unfortunately, there is research that suggests a link between gum disease and preterm, low-birthweight babies. In recent years we’ve come to realize that bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums and is linked to many serious issues, including heart disease. So it is not surprising to find that this can affect your pregnancy as well. The current theory proposes that when the bacteria travels to the uterus it triggers the production of prostaglandins, which are suspected to contribute to premature labor. The best prevention for this is excellent hygiene!
“When should I visit Soulsmile?”
If you are pregnant or suspect you are, we’d encourage a visit right away! A checkup in your first trimester allows Dr. Kivel to assess your oral health and map out a dental plan for the rest of your pregnancy. A second trimester cleaning will let us monitor any changes and make sure the gums are being properly cleaned.
“Are there dental procedures I should avoid?”
Routine care can generally be performed throughout pregnancy, but the best time for treatment is the fourth through sixth month. Your obstetrician may be consulted for dental emergencies that require anesthesia or if medication needs to be prescribed. Elective procedures should generally be delayed until after birth.
Congratulations again! Please contact us if you’d like to schedule a visit or if you have any questions about related to your own pregnancy.