During pregnancy, an expectant mother experiences much more than just a growing anticipation to meet her new baby. Along with an expanding abdomen, the entire body is going through significant changes to grow a baby and to prepare for delivery. While nine months often feels like “forever” to a pregnant woman, it is truly a short span of time for the remarkable development of new life. The female body must double its blood supply, must increase its respiratory functions in order to provide adequate oxygen to the mother and baby, prepare for milk production, and produce huge fluctuations in hormones to sustain, develop, and deliver a new life. Yes, the growing abdomen is typically the most noticeable change in a pregnant woman from the outside, but the most significant changes occur on the inside. The huge fluctuations of hormones are one of the most significant changes, and they affect the body in many ways. A pregnant woman’s oral health is extremely vulnerable to the changes in hormones, and oral health concerns can pose substantial risks to pregnancy.
“Pregnancy gingivitis” affects 40% of pregnant women. Red, tender, swollen gums that bleed easily and are irritated are common during pregnancy. This inflammation of the gum tissues is called gingivitis. During pregnancy, hormone fluctuations increase the blood flow to the gum tissues and cause them to become more sensitive, swollen, and irritable. These hormone changes also weaken the body’s immunity to bacteria, which can lead to periodontal infections.
The presence of bacteria with a weakened immune response can pose life-threatening consequences during pregnancy. Any infection inside the mouth can easily pass into the blood stream and be transferred to the uterus. Gum disease during pregnancy has been directly linked to the following:
- Preterm labor
- Low birthweight babies
Good dental care is essential during pregnancy. Flossing and brushing twice a day should be a priority, as well as keeping dental appointments for cleanings and exams. Any oral health concerns that are left unchecked can have dire consequences.
Contact Huebner Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics today for an appointment.