Pregnancy is not only an exciting time but one filled with doctors’ appointments, trips to the mall to pick-out cribs and strollers, weekends filled with decorating a nursery, and preparing for a fun baby shower. Thinking about your dental health may be the furthest thing on your mind — as baby’s health and wellbeing is often the primary focus during pregnancy. But the reality is that a woman’s dental health both before and during pregnancy can greatly influence her own health and the health of her unborn child. And that means trips to the dentist are an important part of pregnancy.
How Hormones Impact Dental Health
Many women joke about having to deal with physical and emotional changes brought on by surging or plunging hormones — regardless of whether they’re pregnant or not. So what’s so unique about pregnancy hormones and dental health? Higher levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the tiny blood vessels in gums to dilate and become more engorged with blood supply. This extra blood causes gums to become swollen and sensitive to the slightest pressure or touch. The increased vascular flow also makes gums more sensitive to the irritating properties of dental plaque (bacteria). Unfortunately, this often leads to a condition referred to as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ where gums bleed easily when being flossed or brushed.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Smile Healthy During Pregnancy?
Increased hormone levels aren’t responsible for causing all the trouble in a pregnant woman’s mouth. Plaque also plays a significant role in the formation and worsening of poor oral health, and usually, plaque is present prior to a woman discovering she’s expecting. Ensuring a healthy pregnancy starts before conception, and increased visits to the dentist for professional cleanings are highly recommended to reduce plaque levels and the presence of harmful bacteria. It’s also common for women to need more frequent cleanings during pregnancy — especially if puffy, swollen gums are a concern. Increasing the frequency of cleanings ensures that irritating bacteria won’t cause high levels of gum inflammation, so you can avoid serious issues like the destructive gum disease called periodontitis.
But What Has Swollen Gums Got To Do With Your Baby?
It’s all about inflammation and bacteria. Inflamed gums are indicative of inflammation throughout the body, and the bacteria that causes gum irritation can enter the bloodstream and travel around your body, lowering your immune system and putting organs under additional stress. A healthy mouth before and during pregnancy also helps prevent premature birth and low birth-weight, which helps a child have the best chance at great health.
Are you expecting an addition to your family? Whether you’re planning on conceiving or already pregnant, it’s time to give your teeth and oral health the extra attention they need.
Contact the team at Discover Dental today at 403-285.0222