What does your oral health have to do with premature labor?
There are so many myths concerning what you should or shouldn’t do during pregnancy, but one thing you can be sure of is the reality of pregnancy gingivitis. Studies show that nearly half of women will develop mild to severe gingivitis during their pregnancy. The worst part?
This mild gum disease has been linked to premature birth.
But don’t stress! This article is your definitive guide to oral health during pregnancy. There are several factors that can contribute to the development of pregnancy gingivitis, and we’re going to cover all of them right here. First thing’s first:
What is pregnancy gingivitis?
Pregnancy gingivitis is the inflammation and/or irritation of the gums caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. These changes increase blood flow to the gums and cause them to become more sensitive, which can result in irritation, swelling, and bleeding. Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through irritated gums, travel to the uterus, and trigger the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that have been suspected to induce premature labor.
Signs of gingivitis
- Redder looking gums
- Mild to severe swelling
- Mild to severe bleeding
If you suspect you have developed gingivitis during your pregnancy, see your dentist as soon as possible.
What causes pregnancy gingivitis?
Your hormonal changes can cause many issues that may seem small, but together form a collective threat to not only your health, but the health of your unborn baby, too. Below is a list of symptoms that you might experience during pregnancy, all of which can increase your risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
- Increased levels of progesterone, which makes it easier for gingivitis-causing bacteria to grow
- Hormonal changes that exaggerate your body’s reaction to the toxins in plaque
- Sensitive teeth and gums
- Dry mouth
- Morning sickness
- Increase in appetite
What can you do to prevent pregnancy gingivitis?
Just because your hormones are off the charts doesn’t mean you have no control over how they affect your health. The following tips will help prevent pregnancy gingivitis, pregnancy tumors, and tooth decay!
Up your hygiene game
Brush your teeth twice a day – if not more – with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Make flossing a part of your daily routine. Use an antimicrobial mouthwash.
Drink lots of water
Dry mouth is a common problem that pregnant women experience, and it can be detrimental to your oral health. Without a sufficient amount of saliva, your mouth is more vulnerable to a buildup of bacteria and plaque. Drink a lot of water throughout the day to regularly flushing bacteria and food residue from your mouth.
Avoid frequent snacking
An increase in appetite is to be expected, but frequent snacking increases your risk of gingivitis and tooth decay. Starchy foods (like French fries or chips) can easily leave behind remnants between your teeth for enough time to allow the sugars in the food to convert to acid, which eats away at your enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to decay. Avoid frequent snacking if you can help it, and implement these simple tips when you’ve got the pregnancy munchies.
- Snack healthy. Vegetables are fibrous, filling, and contain less sugar than most fruits and other snacks.
- Swish with water or antimicrobial mouthwash after snacking
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Floss after eating
- Avoid sugary drinks and treats
- Be cautious of citrus. Due to the high acidity level, citrus food and drinks erode your tooth enamel.
Do NOT brush after vomiting
For most, morning sickness is just a part of the journey. However vial it may seem, refrain from brushing your teeth immediately after the act. Vomit contains stomach acids that are corrosive enough to weaken and deteriorate the protective coating of enamel on your teeth. Brushing after your enamel has been weakened can cause further erosion and contribute to tooth decay. We suggest you wait at least 30 minutes to brush after dealing with a bout of morning sickness. The following ritual should make the wait a little more bearable:
- Rinse out your mouth with water
- Rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash
- Chew a stick of sugar-free gum
Don’t avoid the dentist
A dentist appointment during pregnancy is nothing to fear. Experts recommend that you avoid any optional and/or cosmetic treatment while pregnant, but a routine checkup or cleaning is just fine. You can even receive X-rays at the appointment without endangering your baby, so long as you wear the protective covering over your abdomen. Here are a few things to keep in mind about scheduling a dentist appointment while pregnant:
- If you’re planning your pregnancy, schedule your appointment before you’ve become pregnant.
- Inform your dentist of your pregnancy before the appointment
- Prepare for a long, uncomfortable sit in the dentist’s chair
- Prepare for a more sensitive gag reflex
We all know that pregnancy can be as stressful as it is magical. Stress a little less by being mindful of your oral health and extra meticulous with your hygiene during this important time. Stay ahead of the game and check out our article published on Oradyne.net about how to properly care for baby teeth!