Pregnancy and Your Oral Health
Hormonal changes during pregnancy1,4—particularly increases in progesterone1—can exaggerate the way your gum tissue reacts to plaque, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).1,4
If dental plaque isn’t removed,3 it can cause gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease.2,3 So-called “pregnancy gingivitis” affects some pregnant women, usually during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.1,4 Some women also experience “pregnancy tumors,” or overgrowths of gum tissue, during their second trimester. These are red growths related to excess plaque that are usually found between the teeth, and they are often surgically removed once the baby is born.1
Studies also suggest a link between preterm, low-birth-weight babies and gum disease.1,4
To prevent gum disease, brush gently with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, paying special attention to the gum line. Floss at least once a day.1,3 Schedule a complete dental checkup before you become pregnant or early in your pregnancy.4 Your dentist may want you to get more frequent cleanings during your pregnancy, especially during your second trimester and early in the third trimester if it’s deemed necessary.1
1 “Pregnancy: Frequently Asked Questions.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2730.aspx Accessed 2010.
2 “Disease, gum (Diseases, Periodontal)” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2660.aspx?currentTab=2 Accessed 2010.
3 “Plaque.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2727.aspx?currentTab=2 Accessed 2010.
4 “Oral Health.” National Women’s Health Information Center, 2006. http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/oral-health.pdf Accessed 2010.