If you are pregnant, you may be overwhelmed at the amount of changes your body is expected to undergo over the next several months. Although your dental health may be your least concern as your watch your belly grow, it deserves your attention. Ignoring oral health changes during pregnancy can bring serious consequences – for you and your baby.
What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
The dramatic shift in hormones during pregnancy is what causes the primary changes in your mouth. These hormones cause your gums to become inflamed and bleed easily, which is the earliest stage of gum disease (or gingivitis). Up to 70% of all pregnant women will experience pregnancy gingivitis, which typically occurs between the 2nd and 8th month of pregnancy. The danger is that leaving gingivitis untreated can lead to severe periodontal disease. Not only can advanced gum disease cause irreversible damage such as tooth loss, it can also affect your unborn baby.
The Serious Risks of Untreated Gum Disease in Pregnancy
There is evidence suggesting that pregnancy gingivitis is linked to preterm birth. One study in The Journal of the American Dental Association reported that pregnant women that had persistent or chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to give birth prematurely to underweight babies.
Beyond gum disease, pregnancy hormones can also make you more vulnerable to cavities and plaque buildup. Increased progesterone levels make it easier for bacteria to grow, so a more diligent oral hygiene routine must be followed. Many women may find it difficult to brush and floss during the early months when morning sickness is more prevalent. However, you and your baby’s health depend on your disciplined efforts.
Dental Cleanings are Safe for Expectant Moms
With all of the extra doctor’s appointments and baby planning, you may be tempted to skip your dental exam. Not only are routine dental cleanings safe during pregnancy, they are extremely important. The American Pregnancy Association suggests that you only postpone elective dental procedures until after delivery and that you delay non-emergency dental work until the second trimester. Always tell your dentist that you are pregnant, even if you are in the first trimester. Considering that your baby’s health is at stake, it is worth putting some extra time and effort into your teeth and gums until you deliver.
Call Riverwood Dental today to schedule your dental exam during pregnancy.