When I became pregnant with my first born, my gums freaked out! I went to the dentist for a routine checkup and cleaning, and from the look on my hygienist’s face, I knew something was going on, inside my mouth. 🙁 After the cleaning, she, along with my dentist explained to me that along with all the other symptoms associated with pregnancy, oral health can be affected too…and in my case, I had developed pregnancy gingivitis, and it could very well turn into permanent gum disease! All I knew is that THAT sounded horrible. I had developed deep pockets in my gums that were causing them to bleed, you know the part of your dental visit when they are measuring the spaces between your teeth and gums… My gums were inflamed and they were concerned I could develop periodontal disease! WOW! My hormones were clearly having an affect on my teeth and gums and it was NO BUENO!!!
Expectant mothers (and women who take some oral contraceptives) experience-elevated levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque, and in many cases can cause a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis.”
The normal course of action when a person is having these types of gum issues is to get a “deep cleaning,” but because I was pregnant, it wasn’t an option. So, they sent me home with all these natural hygiene products…toothpaste, mouth rinse, etc… Believe me when I tell you I get so paranoid about my teeth, especially after having braces (twice), oral surgery, retainers, lots of fillings as a kid…eek! I used all the products they gave me, religiously and began to floss like there was no tomorrow. I also went in every 3 months (instead of the standard 6), to get my teeth cleaned. We then decided I would come back after the hormones subsided a little to re-assess the gum “issues.”
Well, lucky for me, everything in my mouth returned to normal post-pregnancy. The frequent visits to my hygienist and my “anal” oral care routine at home made the difference! And — I never want to be a possible candidate for gum disease ever again, so those “anal” habits have stuck with me, and that’s a good thing! 😉 So, if you are pregnant, a visit to the dentist should be on your “to-do” list. We only get one set of teeth, so be SURE to take care of them..pregnant or not! On a side note, if you use bleaching trays, my hygienist told me that can actually help kill the bacteria that causes plaque! YAY!
Here are good FACTS to know about “Pregnancy Gingivitis”
- 65-70% of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis
- Research suggest a link between pre-term, low birth weight babies and gingivitis
- It is most common between the second to eighth months of pregnancy
- If you already have gingivitis it will likely become worse during pregnancy, especially without treatment
- Symptoms include swollen, red gums and bleeding of the gum when you brush