During pregnancy, a number of physiological changes occur, which can have a significant effect on your oral health. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can lead to inflammation of the gums.
Many women experience dental health issues due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Common pregnancy-related conditions include swollen gums, bleeding gums, and dry mouth. These conditions may increase the risk of gum disease and other oral infections.
Dry mouth is experienced more often by women who are pregnant compared to those who are not. The American Dental Association reports that up to 50% of pregnant women may experience some degree of dry mouth. This condition occurs because the body produces less saliva during pregnancy. Without enough saliva in the mouth, plaque is not washed away as quickly from the teeth. Plaque that is not removed hardens into tartar and can only be removed by a dentist using professional hygienic cleanings. This means that the buildup of tartar on the teeth goes unnoticed for longer, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
In addition to an increased risk of tooth decay, dry mouth also causes bad breath. Saliva naturally cleans the mouth by removing food debris and bacteria that can lead to odor-causing illnesses such as halitosis or chronic bad breath. Without enough saliva in the mouth, the breath often smells stale and unpleasant. Additionally, when a woman is pregnant, her hormones cause an increase in the amount of blood that is lost through the gums. This increased blood flow can cause them to become sensitive and even bleed when they are brushed too hard. Increased sensitivity of the gums can make regular brushing and flossing uncomfortable and painful.
Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, which is a serious infection that can destroy gum tissue and the underlying bone structure that supports the teeth. The increased risk is due to the fact that hormonal changes can exaggerate the way gums react to the bacteria in plaque. This can make the gums more sensitive and make it easier for the bacteria to invade the soft tissues. However, good oral hygiene habits and periodontal treatments can prevent and treat this common condition.
During regular checkups and cleanings, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to check for signs of periodontal disease. In addition, he or she may recommend a special toothpaste or an antimicrobial mouth rinse that can help control plaque buildup and prevent infections. If oral health care problems are detected, the dentist may also recommend a series of deep cleanings and antibiotic treatments to treat the infection before it progresses further.
During pregnancy, your oral environment can change dramatically. As your body changes to accommodate your baby, the hormones in your body can cause your gums to be more susceptible to plaque buildup and bacteria infiltration. This may cause tooth enamel to wear down faster than it usually would. If left untreated, further oral health issues can occur. Your dentist may recommend protecting your smile with fluoride treatments and sealants to help reduce the risk of future cavities. Additionally, your dentist can recommend other preventive treatment options to keep your oral health in its best shape before, during, and after pregnancy.
Find out more about oral health by scheduling an appointment at the Rio Rancho Family Dental Care clinic. Call us at (505) 891-4510 or drop in at our dental office, located at 4041 Ridge Rock Rd SE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124.