When you are pregnant, it is imperative that you take extra special care of your body, both for your own health but also for the health of your baby. That is common sense, but what a lot of women do not know is that it is extremely important to take care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy, as well. During pregnancy, your body produces higher level of hormones. These elevated hormone levels can cause your gums to overreact to plaque which in turn may cause swollen, red and tender gums that may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called pregnancy gingivitis. Not all women will develop this but if you do, it usually occurs in the second trimester and will peak in the middle of the third trimester. If you already had gingivitis prior to pregnancy, it is likely that your condition will worsen when pregnant.
Believe it or not, this can actually effect the health of you baby. Excessive plaque can enter the bloodstream through your gums and trigger the production of prostaglandins, a hormone-like chemical. Prostaglandins is produced by your body naturally but is peaked when you go into labor. Your body may interpret this hormone production as a sign to go into premature labor. Premature labor can result in low birth weight and other medical problems in newborns.
In all cases, whether you are pregnant or not, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease if left untreated. This in itself can lead directly to tooth loss. But the effects of periodontal disease in pregnant women go much deeper. Researchers have discovered that active periodontal disease can increase the risk of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
The good news is that all of this is preventable. Daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to Palmetto Family Dentistry is essential.