For many women, the excitement of pregnancy comes with a long list of worries about how to take care of themselves and their growing baby. There are countless books dedicated to the subject of taking care of your body during pregnancy, but not much is often said about the unique challenges women face when it comes to oral health during this time in their lives.
Hormones During Pregnancy
The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can create changes not only in the body but also in the mouth, according to Spokane area dentist Dr. Ken Collins, DDS.
“It’s very important to see your dentist throughout your pregnancy for cleanings and exams,” he said. “Women who are pregnant experience an increased risk of developing gingivitis and should take extra care to maintain a consistent and thorough daily oral hygiene routine.”
Higher Risk of Gum Disease
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the hormonal changes caused by increases in progesterone and estrogen effect the way the gums respond to the build-up of plaque. When plaque begins to build up it can cause the first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis.
“The good news about gingivitis, is that if treated immediately, the damage done by this early stage of gum disease is reversible,” said Collins. “If it’s left untreated, it will eventually lead to periodontitis where the damage caused to the gums, tissue and bone becomes permanent and can even lead to tooth loss.”
Gum disease has been linked to a number of other health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. For pregnant women, some research has pointed to a possible increase in the risk of low birth weights and premature births for those babies whose mothers suffer from gum disease. Most researchers believe the inflammation caused by gum disease enters the blood stream and travels to other areas of the body allowing it to affect more than just the mouth.
Pregnancy Tumors on the Gums
Another unique oral concern experienced by expecting mothers is something called pregnancy tumor. It can also be referred to as pyogenic granuloma or pregnancy epulis. As scary as the name sounds, it’s not cancerous, but it causes a swollen lump on the gum or other areas of the mouth. It can grow quickly and is usually red in color.
Pregnancy tumors can be caused by poor oral hygiene, plaque and tartar, trauma to the gums or even just the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy. They usually disappear shortly after birth, but for those who experience pain or embarrassment, there are treatment options available.
Expecting a baby is a joyous time in the lives of women all around the globe, but it also comes with its own unique sets of challenges. Just as it’s recommended to see a doctor more often during pregnancy, it’s important to visit the dentist, as well. Scientific research has proven a link between oral health and overall health exists so it’s in the best interest of both mother and baby to maintain all to the best of their ability with the help of medical professionals.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788