It is such a blessing to have a bundle of joy! The very moment you heard its heartbeat, surely you have had visions of how bright the future will look like now that you are going to share it with your offspring. But, to tell you honestly, being pregnant is all happiness and glitters. There are some moments during the nine months that you will carry your child in your womb that will make you realize that motherhood is indeed a sacrifice and a calling after all. Thinning hair, morning (sometimes all-day) sickness, being gassy and bloated, hemorrhoids, and the fact that your teeth might become sensitive during your pregnancy are just some of the many complaints mothers-to-be might have. I guess, this comes with the territory when you received the privilege of growing a human being inside you. This is also the very reason why, aside from having your regular prenatal check-ups with your OB-GYN, you should also find time to see your dentist while you are childbearing so your dental health can also be ensured, especially if you have signs of developing pregnancy gingivitis. Let’s find out what this dental problem is, why it happens, and what we can do to prevent or treat this pregnancy-related dental condition.
Pregnancy Gingivitis: What is it?
When you are pregnant, your body is pictured as a hot mess – from your cravings to your hormones. The truth is, your dental issues would be the least of your worries during this time. However, because of the extreme ups and downs of your hormones, your body may undergo some problems and changes along the way. And one of them is pregnancy gingivitis.
Pregnancy gingivitis is a condition caused by an increased progesterone hormone in the blood. This hormonal spiking causes you to have weak gums, increasing your chances of developing plaque leading to bleeding and infection. Once all these ensue and develop, your dentist may diagnose you with pregnancy gingivitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy Gingivitis
This gum disease is like any other gingival issue that you may have, you just developed it while expecting. Gum bleeding when brushing or flossing teeth, red and swollen gums, bad breath, and receding-looking gums may be observed. If plaque buildup is the main cause of your gum infection, you may also experience pain and teeth sensitivity as your gums swell and recede, exposing your tooth roots.
Complications of Gum Disease
What is dangerous about neglecting your gingival issue is the fact that, if left untreated, it will most likely spread out to other neighboring tissues, like your bone, or worse, your bloodstream. Periodontitis, a more and complicated stage of gingival infection, affects not just the gums but also the bones as the bacterial infestation spreads elsewhere in the mouth. You can also have tooth loss if the infection is not alleviated. What’s worse is that your pregnancy gingivitis can also affect your offspring, increasing the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. If you have the early signs of having a gum disease and you are pregnant, let this be a fair warning and wake up call for you to include your dental care as part of your health priorities.
Pregnancy Gingivitis: Treatments Approved by your OB-GYN
You may be well-informed that there are so many restrictions and limitations in procedures and medications when you are pregnant. However, as much as we would want to forego taking drugs and undergoing dental treatments during this time if you are faced with a complicated case of gum disease, there is no way to solve it but through medications or gingival procedures.
Antibiotics. Fast-acting and broad-spectrum antibiotics should be given to stop the bacteria from invading your gums. Your dentist should be aware that you are pregnant and what trimester you are in so as to protect you and your child’s well-being.
Plaque removal. Oral prophylaxis will be recommended, and your dentist has to make sure that all the plaque buildup should be removed or the infection will still thrive.
Frequent visits to the dentist. Some pregnant mothers have the misconception that going for dental appointments may be postponed until after giving birth because dental procedures may hurt or cause discomfort that can affect their baby’s safety. However, if you already have a gum disease that needed urgent care from your dentist, your schedule should be done more frequently than expected so as not to overlook your gum health.
Surgery. If worse comes to worst and no non-invasive treatment can stop the spread of your gum infection, there is no other way but to surgically removed the infected gums so that the infection can be apprehended and stopped from advancing into a more complicated gum disease.
How to Prevent Gingivitis
Pregnant or not, taking care of your oral health should be part of your daily routine. Your mouth is the gateway to your health, so they say. This means that if your dental health is compromised, your overall wellness will be affected as well. Here are the tried-and-tested ways to prevent having any dental or gum disease, especially while bearing your child.
Proper oral hygiene. Brush at least twice daily. Floss every day. Yes, you read it right. You have to floss your teeth every single day so as to make sure that no food particles or debris will be left in between your teeth, as these will serve as the breeding ground of the bacteria that can cause swollen gums leading to gingivitis. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-infused floss to effectively clean the teeth and gums without causing any irritation.
Use mouth rinses. More than just carefully brushing and flossing your teeth, using fluoride-rich mouthwashes kills the bacteria that causes the gum infection. It also strengthens the teeth and other surrounding tissues. What your OB-GYN would warn you is to check the alcohol content of your mouthwash. What they would recommend is gargling salt water rinses instead of commercially-produced ones. Either of the two can be effective.
Curb your cravings. Stick to a healthy diet. Avoid sugary drinks and sweets. Snack on fiber-rich carrots, celery, and fruits. Eat fruits, whole grains, and splurge on dairy products to up your calcium to strengthen bones and teeth.
Now that you are well aware that dental problems like gum disease should not be overlooked during pregnancy, you should never put off your dental appointments from now on. Although your pregnancy gingivitis will, as expected, subside after giving birth, you should still regard your dental consultations the same way you give importance to your medical check-ups. With this, we can assure you that your time, money, and efforts will all be paid off in the end.