Moms-To-Be: Gestational Gingivitis May be a Problem for You
The never-ending good news that comes with pregnancy doesn’t stop at weird cravings and morning sickness. The little bun in your oven can also cause distress in your mouth. Not only are you more susceptible to gum disease, your gum health can actually affect the health of your baby-to-be! How does pregnancy affect your teeth and gums, you ask? Let me explain - about half of women experience a phenomenon called gestational gingivitis (aka pregnancy gums). This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. You can thank your wacky hormones for this affliction. Conversely, a more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease may affect the health of your unborn child. Is periodontal disease linked to pre-term, low birth weight babies? Yes. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease. Again, periodontal disease is a far more advanced stage of gum disease than pregnancy gums, but without proper care pregnancy gums can progress to periodontal disease. How do I minimize “pregnancy gingivitis” and avoid periodontal disease? • Take extra care and time with good brushing and flossing techniques to remove plaque. • Have a dental check-up and cleaning within the first or second trimester of your pregnancy. • Eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of vitamins C and B12. Tobacco users should refrain from using tobacco products during their entire pregnancy.