During pregnancy, you’re told not to eat certain things, to avoid drinking and smoking and to take specific supplements to boost your health and help your baby to grow and develop healthily, but you also need to take good care of your oral health. Pregnancy causes drastic changes in the levels of hormones in the body and this can increase your risk of developing gum disease.
Pregnancy and gum disease
Pregnancy is a major event and during the nine month gestation period, women undergo several changes, including increased levels of certain hormones. One complication of these changing levels of hormones is an increased risk of gum disease, which is associated with a higher level of progesterone.
Gum disease does not just cause sore, swollen and bleeding gums, it also increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth. Researchers have discovered that gum disease can increase the risk of premature birth and babies being born at a low birth weight. A study, which was published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, found that pregnant women who have gum disease are up to seven times more likely to give birth prematurely; the study also revealed that mothers with the worst cases of gum disease gave birth at the earliest date at around 32 weeks.
What can be done to reduce the risk of gum disease?
The most effective way of reducing the risk of gum disease during pregnancy is to maintain good oral hygiene; this includes brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time and flossing to remove plaque and food debris from the gum line and the tiny cracks between the teeth.
It is also essential to see your dentist on a regular basis both during and after pregnancy; NHS dental care is available free of charge for pregnant women and for one year after the baby is born. Sensu recommend you see your dentist for a check-up if you are thinking of starting to try for a baby.
If you notice symptoms of gum disease, including swollen, tender, red or bleeding gums, you should see your dentist as soon as possible; do not wait until your next scheduled check-up, as the symptoms can get worse and advanced gum disease could cause irreparable damage to your mouth, as well as increasing your risk of complications during labour and childbirth.
During pregnancy it is also really important to watch your diet. Try to steer clear of sweet and sugary foods, especially between meals and avoid drinking fizzy drinks and sugary, acidic fruit juice. Sugary foods weaken the protective enamel and make the teeth susceptible to infection and injury. If you have any questions about your diet or oral hygiene during pregnancy, contact your dentist and they will be able to offer you advice.