Our oral health often falls last in line where worries about pregnancy are concerned. The development of a new life can have serious impacts on all areas of our health. Our oral health is just one more aspect that can suffer if neglected. Research has shown that as pregnancy can impact our oral health, so can oral health impact pregnancy. Below we’ll go into the complex relationship involved and what you can do to protect your oral health.
How Our Oral Health Is Affected By Pregnancy
The process of developing a child puts our body through an immense number of changes. Our pelvic bones shift, our bellies grow, and other parts of our body change as well. Almost all of these developments can be tied to elevated hormone levels during gestation. Of the potential results of hormonal changes that can be included are swelling gums and inflammation in a manner similar to gingivitis. This condition bears the name ‘gestational gingivitis’ and can expose us to similar risks. Other pregnancy concerns that can influence our oral health include:
- Changing Eating Habits – Dietary changes during pregnancy often occur due to the cravings that occur. We may want to chew ice or develop a strong desire to eat sweets. These habits can lead to greater risks of dental damage and decay. Chewing ice is often a sign of mineral deficiency.
- Altered Oral Hygiene Habits – Gestational nausea can have many consequences. Some women may find themselves brushing less due to this nausea. Greater levels of exhaustion and gum tenderness don’t help this situation either.
- Higher Risk Of Cavities – The above issues can lead to an increased risk of cavity development. Combine this with the greater acid exposure resulting from morning sickness, and pregnancy often results in a higher incidence of cavities.
- Gingivitis – Poor oral hygiene and fluctuations in our hormones can lead to our gums being inflamed. Regardless of the cause, this is a clear sign of gingivitis. Even gestational gingivitis can open us to a greater risk of developing periodontitis. The initial symptoms are not caused by bacteria. However, they do make our gums and teeth more vulnerable. This is the result of inflammation leading to bleeding gums, which opens them to bacterial infection.
- Periodontal Disease – When gingivitis goes untreated, periodontal disease is the inevitable result. As the condition advances, our jawbones, teeth, and gums are all at serious risk. Recent studies have shown that our developing children are also at risk when periodontitis is present. Children born to mothers who experienced periodontal disease during pregnancy show a greater tendency to tooth decay.
- Pregnancy Tumors – While not cancerous, these tumors can still be concerning. They form raw-looking red lumps that appear on the gums. They often show up between the teeth and bleed easily. While they generally disappear after childbirth, it’s possible they will need surgical removal.
The effects of pregnancy on our oral health include more than is listed above. If you want more information about pregnancy-related dental risks, speak to your dentist. You may also desire to consult with your women’s health care provider.
Prepare For Your Pregnancy By Teaming With Your Doctors
Planning for all the contingencies during your pregnancy can help you avoid unexpected problems. Involving your dentist and women’s health care provider in this planning ensures an even greater degree of success. Reach out to them for advice today.