Expectant mothers put a great deal of effort, and rightly so, into protecting and caring for the life growing within them. Taking care of oral health during pregnancy is particularly important for both mother and child. We are going to consider the effect that pregnancy hormones have on the gums, and then explain why keeping mom’s mouth healthy is so important to an unborn child.
Gum Disease Concerns During Pregnancy
Gum disease is quite dangerous in pregnant women, and the cause is the hormone changes that take place. Progesterone is elevated when a woman is pregnant. This hormone can actually have ill effects on gum disease. This is because progesterone can cause the blood vessels in the gums to become inflamed. Since this is a problem with gum disease, things can worsen quickly.
Because of this swelling caused by progesterone, gingivitis is common in pregnant women. Gingivitis really only refers to inflammation of the gums. When the condition progresses to infection, it is called periodontal disease. At this point, the condition poses additional risk to both mother and child.
Complications of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease affects more than just the mouth. Once the gums become infected, inflammatory responses can be triggered across the body. This is because the infection can easily be released into the blood stream. Researchers believe that this is one of the reasons women with periodontal disease are at higher risk for preterm delivery. Studies have also linked periodontal disease during pregnancy with high blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia is not only bad for the mother’s blood vessels but may stress a developing child’s blood vessels as well.
How Periodontal Disease Is Treated
The good news is that you dentist can treat periodontal disease effectively. Your dentist will provide training in how to keep teeth clean at home. Scaling will remove tartar that is promoting further inflammation. If necessary, root planing can also be performed safely. This is a deeper cleaning that gets behind the gums into pockets that are formed by the infection. A local anesthetic is used.
Prevention Is the Best Medicine
If you are an expecting mother, proper oral hygiene is extremely important to both you and your baby. Be sure not to skip your regular dental cleanings and checkups. Brush and floss daily with a good toothbrush and proper technique. Make a dental appointment if your gums become sore and red or begin to bleed. Your hormones may be working against you, but you can still successfully ward off periodontal disease and its many effects.