During pregnancy, your hormone levels dramatically increase. The rise in progesterone causes your gums to have an exaggerated response to plaque. According to Dr Sherman, this can cause gingivitis. He says, "Women may experience pregnancy gingivitis, especially during months two through eight." Symptoms include red, puffy or tender gums that tend to bleed while you brush or floss your teeth.
Pregnancy tumors on the gums also can occur. These localized overgrowths of gum tissue typically appear on the gums during the second trimester and are believed to be caused by a reaction to excess plaque. Pregnancy tumors tend to bleed easily and may have to be removed surgically after the baby is born.
Periodontal disease has been linked to problem pregnancies. "Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm, low-birthweight babies," warns Dr Sherman. "Chronic or acute infections caused by periodontal disease also have deleterious effects on both mother and baby."
Even if you do brush and floss daily, any changes in your teeth and gums should be examined by a dentist.
Dr Sherman recommends the following tips to maintain your dental health:
1. Be diligent about your oral hygiene. Frequent brushing, flossing and proper nutrition are most important in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
2. See your dentist. Make sure to visit your dentist shortly before or after you become pregnant.
3. Ask questions. When you see your dentist, be sure to discuss the effects of pregnancy on your oral health and vice v
4. Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the relationship between pregnancy and dental health. Information can be found at these websites:
5. Plan ahead. Whenever possible, take care of essential dental needs before planning to become pregnant. This will lower the potential for oral infections and their potentially harmful effects on your pregnancy, as well as decrease the likelihood of stressful dental emergencies.
6. Find affordable dental care. To keep your dental costs down, check with insurance companies for affordable dental plans that are right for your dental needs. Dr Sherman advises, "Several companies, including Starmount Life Insurance and AlwaysCare Benefits, offer individual dental policies [in most states]. Outside of [dental insurance], there are community and dental school clinics."
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