Pregnancy is an amazing thing; however, while your body is busy creating a new life, there are some unfortunate downsides that come with pregnancy. In addition to back and foot pain, you might be surprised to learn that your oral health could suffer while you're pregnant. Read on to learn more about why you're at a higher risk of dental complications during pregnancy, what to expect, and what you can do about it.
Oral Health Risk
Pregnancy can cause some strange food cravings, but the increased risk of oral damage while pregnant is actually unrelated to what you're eating. Women who become pregnant are at a higher risk of developing gum disease between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women may develop swollen, bleeding gums. In addition, if gum disease is left uncontrolled, it can increase the risk of having a premature birth.
Why This Happens
There are two reasons why pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease than women who aren't pregnant. One reason is that the body becomes more vulnerable to bacteria, including the common bacteria that's always in the mouth that can cause gum disease. Even if your standard oral hygiene habits typically have held tooth decay and gum disease at bay, it may not be enough while you're pregnant if you aren't thoroughly reducing the amount of bacteria in your mouth.
The second reason is that pregnant bodies produce progesterone, which is a hormone that helps facilitate the pregnancy. As a side effect, however, it makes gums and other tissues more prone to swelling and inflammation. This inflammation can lead to bleeding, infection, and an increased risk of developing advanced forms of gum disease.
Avoiding or Fixing These Side Effects
Although being pregnant puts you at a higher risk of developing these problems, the usual steps for reversing gum disease generally still work. You should visit your dentist for a thorough exam and cleaning, floss regularly, and brush your teeth after every meal. Using a mouth wash after following these steps can also help to kill excess bacteria in your mouth. While these steps may not necessarily completely stop every single side effect pregnancy is having on your oral health, they will improve your oral health and protect your gum disease from progressing to a more serious stage, like periodontitis. In addition, your family dentist will be able to determine if you're currently suffering from gum disease, and offer additional advice for combating it.
If you're pregnant or plan to get pregnant, visit your dentist to make sure that your oral health is good.