Pregnancy Gingivitis and Your Baby

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Pregnancy and Oral Care

Timbercest Dental Center

 

You’ve just learned you’re pregnant – CONGRATULATIONS!  But how does pregnancy affect your gums?

Pregnant women experience increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.  These increased levels of hormones change the way your gums react to oral bacteria, often causing a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis.  Pregnancy gingivitis exhibits as swollen, red and bleeding gums (especially when you brush your teeth).

Is my baby’s health at risk if I have pregnancy gingivitis?

Photo courtesy of answers.com
Photo courtesy of answers.com

Increased bacteria (which causes gingivitis) can enter the bloodstream through your bleeding gums.  This can trigger the production of chemicals called “prostaglandins” which are believed to induce premature labor (which can result in pre-term, low birth weight babies).

Thus, good oral health care is vital during your pregnancy.  Brushing and flossing several times daily, as well as dental cleanings and exams are recommended to avoid oral infections that can affect the fetus.  Your dentist or hygienist may even recommend that you have more frequent cleanings to protect the health of your baby if you have been diagnosed with pregnancy gingivitis. Between 60-75% of pregnant women get pregnancy gingivitis.

What about other dental treatment – is this safe during pregnancy?

It is generally recommended to wait on major, non-emergency treatment until after your baby is born.

Photo courtesy of michigan.org
Photo courtesy of michigan.org

If major treatment must be performed, the second trimester is the best time to do so.  In the first trimester, your baby’s organs are forming.  In the third trimester, laying back in the dental chair can put pressure on the vein that delivers blood from the lower part of your body to your heart.  This can be very uncomfortable for the expecting mother.

There are certain antibiotics that are deemed safe for use during pregnancy, as well as some over-the-counter pain medications.  Your dentist will be able to tell you which would be safe for you and your baby.  Narcotics, of course, should be avoided during pregnancy.

Remember, most dental procedures are safe during pregnancy.  But the healthier your mouth is, the healthier and happier your pregnancy.  And the healthier your baby will be.

Learn more about family dentistry and how we can help!

Source: AGD Impact May 2000

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