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Pregnancy and Oral Health

Women undergo several growth stages and hormonal changes throughout their lives. Because of all these changes, women’s oral health is not necessarily better than men’s even though they usually take better care of their oral health.

The Journal of Periodontology states that 23 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 54 have periodontitis, a state of periodontal disease.

Women who experience gingivitis during pregnancy undergo more severe cases of gingivitis as their pregnancies progress. Some symptoms include bleeding, tenderness and swelling in the gum tissue.

Some pregnant women report large lumps in their gums. These are called pregnancy tumors and can be removed by a periodontist.

Many studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and premature babies. Pregnant women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to give birth to a premature or underweight baby.


How to Care for your Oral Health


1)      Make regular dental check-ups—at least twice a year.

2)      If you notice any of the following, consult with your dental care professional:

-         constant bad breath

-         bleeding gums

-         swollen gums

-         loose teeth

-         changes in your bite

-         gum recession


Some Tips for Mothers-To-Be


1)      If planning on pregnancy, visit your dental professional before you get pregnant.


Gordon Douglas, D.D.S. and president of the American Academy of Periodontology states “The good news is women who treat their periodontal health prior to pregnancy decrease their chances of experiencing pregnancy gingivitis. Women should always take extra care of their oral health because their hormonal fluctuations can affect many tissues, including gum tissues.”

2)      When you become pregnant, get early regular care.

3)      Eat a healthy and balanced diet, typically consuming about 300 more calories than what you would normally eat.

4)      Stop smoking.

5)      Take a multivitamin that has 400 micrograms of the B vitamin folic acid in the first few months of pregnancy.

6)      Avoid refined sugars.

7)      Consume vitamin C-rich foods

8)      Consume adequate amounts of calcium to promote healthy teeth and bones.


Did You Know?


About half of women will undergo pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis causes swelling, redness or bleeding in the gum tissue. This could lead to a more advanced case of periodontal disease, which affects the health of your baby.

If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease during pregnancy, your periodontist may suggest a special treatment called scaling and root planning. This treatment is non-surgical and involves removal of tartar and plaque from periodontal pockets. This treatment has also been shown to decrease the potential risk of premature births.

It’s important to consult with your dentist during pregnancy. If you notice changes in your gum tissue, visit your dentist as soon as you can.

Women’s Info

While women experience many hormonal changes throughout the course of their lives, it’s important to understand that women need lots of dental care. As women, hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can affect your mouth. Hormone changes can result in:

1)      gingivitis

2)      changes in taste

3)      cold sores

4)      weak bones

5)      dry mouth

6)      higher risk of gum disease

It’s ideal to schedule your dental visit between the fourth and sixth month of your pregnancy because the first three months of pregnancy are most significant in your baby’s growth.

In the first trimester, x-rays, pain medication and dental anesthetics are usually not prescribed unless they’re necessary.

In the last trimester, you may experience great discomfort sitting in the dental chair for too long.

In the case of an emergency visit, make sure your dental office knows you are pregnant before you arrive. Communication with your dental office and dental care professional is important, so talk about the medication you’re taking and past miscarriages you may have had.

What to Consider

1)      Avoid routine x-rays until post-pregnancy.

2)      If you need to get x-rays done, your dentist will give you a special apron to protect you and your baby from the radiation.

3)      Avoid taking drugs or medication during pregnancy. If you need to take drugs for dental procedures, talk with your dentist and doctor.

4)      Snack between meals. Avoid sweet and sticky foods that tend to be high in refined sugars. Brush your teeth after each snack. If you are unable to brush your teeth after a snack or meal, rinse your mouth out a couple times with water.

5)      Brush and floss regularly to remove plaque and food debris. If you don’t brush or floss properly, you may leave food debris and plaque behind, increasing your chance of developing periodontal disease caused by bacterial growth.



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