Expecting a baby is already a lot to think about.
Nonetheless, it is also important to not forget about your oral health during this wonderful journey.
Pregnancy has a number of effects on different parts of the body, and the mouth is no exception. It can trigger a number of changes in oral health, which include the following:
1. Pregnancy Gingivitis:
Gum disease is the most common oral health issue among pregnant women, and this is primarily due to the hormones associated with pregnancy.
Pregnancy gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue that commonly occurs – or worsens if the patient already has some form of gingivitis prior to pregnancy – during the second trimester.
This condition causes the gums to become swollen and bleed easily when brushing or flossing.
Plaque is still the cause of inflammation, but the body’s immune response to the bacterial invasion in the gum tissue is exaggerated as a result of increased hormone levels.
While some women experience spontaneous resolution of pregnancy gingivitis, most cases result in a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis.
If left untreated, periodontitis may lead to tooth loss.
It is, therefore, important to have your gums examined by a dentist as soon as possible after giving birth.
Pregnancy gingivitis can be prevented by good oral hygiene. Do thorough toothbrushing at least at least twice a day and floss to remove plaque in-between teeth.
Professional cleaning is also advised, ideally during the second trimester.
2. Pregnancy Epulis:
Pregnancy epulis, otherwise known as pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma, pertains to the localized enlargement of the gum tissue.
It can also appear on the palate and tongue. It is caused by increased levels of progesterone, along with a plaque and other local irritants in the mouth.
It usually occurs during the second or third trimester, sometimes during the last month of pregnancy. It appears red, swollen and tends to bleed profusely even upon slight manipulation, though it is generally painless.
Some women who have pregnancy epulis choose to have the tumor excised for cosmetic purposes or when it interferes with function.
But even without treatment, the tumor usually disappears after childbirth. Professional cleaning may aid in the faster resolution of this condition.
3. Tooth decay:
Tooth decay is also quite common, especially since pregnant women tend to have cravings for sweet treats yet limited attention to their oral hygiene.
In addition, hormonal changes during pregnancy as well as vomiting due to morning sickness can also increase their risk for this dental problem.
Such risk can be lowered, again, by practicing good oral hygiene.
Extensive tooth decay may lead to abscess and facial cellulitis if left untreated, so it is advised to have the involved teeth restored by a dentist whenever possible.
4. Tooth sensitivity:
Frequent vomiting, in addition to tooth decay, may first and foremost lead to the erosion of the tooth enamel.
Enamel dissolution exposes the dentin underneath, resulting in tooth sensitivity.
This sensitivity is characterized by sharp pain and is triggered by cold, hot, sweet, and sour. Management is more medical than dental and involves prescription of antacids, anti-emetics, or a combination of both.
In addition, your dentist will also recommend using soft-bristled toothbrushes and instruct you to avoid brushing your teeth right after vomiting to avoid further damage.
He/she may also ask you to use fluoride mouth rinse for further protection.
5. Mobile teeth:
Pregnant women can also experience loosening of their teeth due to advanced gum disease.
It can also be due to increased levels of estrogen and progesterone directly affecting the supporting structures of the teeth.
If tooth mobility is associated with gum disease, professional cleaning would be necessary to prevent eventual tooth loss, otherwise, this problem is only temporary and will resolve on its own.