Pregnancy and Oral Health

Due to changes in hormones, pregnant women might be more susceptible to oral health conditions, like gingivitis, tooth decay, and pregnancy tumors.

Pregnancy gingivitis affects nearly 40% of pregnant women and looks like:

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Sensitivity of gums and teeth
  • Bleeding after brushing or flossing

Gingivitis is early-stage gum disease, and without proper care, it can lead to more serious conditions like periodontitis. Periodontitis is a bacterial infection that attacks the tissue and bones supporting the teeth and, though the connection is unclear, is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes like low birth weight and preterm births. With a little extra care in your oral health routine, you can keep pregnancy gingivitis at bay. Recommendations include:

  • Spending more time brushing, focusing on the gum line
  • Using an antimicrobial mouthwash after brushing

Pregnant women might also be more susceptible to tooth decay, especially if they suffer from nausea or morning sickness. The acidity of vomit can weaken tooth enamel, so it’s important to rinse your mouth before brushing to make sure the acid is gone. It’s best to wait 30 minutes after rinsing before brushing your teeth, so that acid isn’t pushed further into the teeth and gums.

Another effect of pregnancy hormones on oral health is pregnancy tumors. They affect about five percent of pregnant women and are completely benign, but can cause discomfort. Symptoms include:

  • Small, berry-colored lumps at the gum line or between teeth, between .5 and 2.5 centimeters in size
  • Sometimes painful

Though these tumors go away on their own, and are not cancerous or harmful, they might be painful and can be removed, typically with a laser or cryosurgery.

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