Pregnancy is a period of time that leaves people awestruck at the miracle of life. In just nine months a new life is conceived, developed, and delivered. While nine months often sounds like forever to a pregnant woman, it truly is just a few months for such incredible growth to occur. As women are making nursery plans and prenatal visits a priority, they also need to remember to schedule routine dental visits during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes dramatic changes in hormone levels over a short span of time. These drastic hormonal shifts have a direct impact on oral health and increase the risk of an expectant mother to develop gum disease. Gum disease is a serious concern for pregnant women for the risks that it poses to her health and to that of her growing baby.
A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy: weight gain, an expanding abdomen, skin changes, and swelling are typically the most noticeable. However, one of the most significant changes that occurs during pregnancy is the huge fluctuation of hormone levels. The same hormones that are responsible for the development of the placenta are the same hormones that impact the gum tissues within the mouth. The huge flux of hormones often causes a pregnant mother’s gums to become easily irritated, tender, and swollen, to bleed easily, and for the entire mouth to have a decreased immune response.
All of these oral reactions to hormones are significant because millions of bacteria gather inside the mouth each day. These bacteria mean to be helpful by breaking down left behind particles from what you eat and drink. However, as they go about breaking down the particles, they begin producing acids to help move things along. Acids are notorious for wreaking havoc, and oral acids are no exception. With the gums already being easily irritated and the immunity of the mouth being decreased, these acid-producing bacteria are dangerous. Any type of infection that occurs within the mouth can easily spread throughout the body through the body’s blood stream. That means that an infection of the gums can enter into the uterus. Gum disease during pregnancy, commonly referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis” has been directly linked to miscarriage, preterm labor, and low birth weight babies. Recognizing the significant impact that your oral health has on your pregnancy will allow you the opportunity to take an active role in your oral health.
At Crabapple Dental, we offer exceptional dentistry to all patients. If you are expecting, please call to schedule an appointment for a thorough exam and cleaning.