How Pregnancy Affects Your Oral Health
Pregnancy affects nearly every aspect of a woman's life, including her oral health. You may think of your oral health as just one more thing to worry about, but taking care of your mouth and teeth is important during pregnancy.
What are the special oral health concerns of pregnant women?
Most women notice changes in their gums during pregnancy. Some women notice that their gums look redder and bleed when they brush their teeth. And some women have severe swelling and bleeding.
All of these changes are referred to as "pregnancy gingivitis." They can start as early as the second month. The condition tends to peak around the eighth month. It often tapers off after the baby is born.
Pregnancy gingivitis is most common in the front of the mouth. The symptoms are the same as those for gingivitis, but some of the causes are different. Increased hormone levels may be partly responsible for pregnancy gingivitis. During pregnancy, the level of progesterone in your body can be 10 times higher than normal. This may enhance growth of certain bacteria that cause gingivitis. Also, your immune system may work differently during pregnancy. This could change the way your body reacts to the bacteria that cause gingivitis.
To minimize the effects of pregnancy gingivitis, practice good oral hygiene: Brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Floss every day. Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse also may help you control your gum inflammation. Some dentists suggest using rinses that don't contain alcohol, but it is not clear whether alcohol-based rinses have a negative effect on pregnancy.
Be sure to have your dentist check the health of your gums while you are pregnant. Pregnancy gingivitis usually can be helped with a professional cleaning. This can be done at any time during your pregnancy. More aggressive treatments, such as periodontal surgery, should be postponed until after delivery.
Pregnancy Granuloma (Pyogenic Granuloma or Pregnancy Tumor) A pregnancy granuloma is a growth on the gums that occurs in 2% to 10% of pregnant women. It is also known as a pyogenic granuloma or pregnancy tumor. Pregnancy tumors are misnamed. They are not actually tumors and are not cancerous. They are not even dangerous, although they can cause discomfort.
Pregnancy granulomas usually develop in the second trimester. They are red nodules, typically found near the upper gum line, but can also be found elsewhere in the mouth. These growths bleed easily and can form an ulcer or crust over. Pregnancy granulomas usually are attached to the gum or mucous membrane by a narrow stalk of tissue.
The exact cause of pregnancy granulomas is unknown, although poor oral hygiene is a primary factor. Trauma, hormones, viruses and malformed blood vessels have also