Author- Dr Aparna Pandya (Mrs India Vivacious 2019)
Pregnancy puts the female body on a hormonal roller-coaster ride during which it undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy. Some of them can make it difficult to maintain good health, including oral health. Gingivitis can occur during pregnancy and can potentially damage your teeth and gums.
Pregnancy gingivitis is when the gums become red and swollen while one is pregnant. They may feel sore and bleed easily.
The major culprits are the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This increases blood flow within your body. The extra blood supply helps keep the baby healthy, but the additional blood flow can make your gums more sensitive. Pregnancy makes the gums more prone to gum infections. This is because pregnancy changes how the body reacts to bacteria, and plaque is made by bacteria. Fortunately, gums will return to normal after the baby comes out.
It is estimated that pregnancy gingivitis affects as many as 75% of pregnant people. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss, hence it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene. The main goal is to avoid letting plaque build up on the teeth, which irritates and inflames the gums.
Advice your patient to brush their teeth twice a day for a full two minutes, ensuring to cover all surfaces and gently stimulating your gums as well by massaging the gums. Flossing is an essential practice that removes food particles where bacteria can grow and form plaque.
Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, like vitamin C, that will help protect your gum tissue from damage and infection. Fresh fruits and vegetables have plenty of nutrients, which are good for your developing baby. Foods that are high in calcium, such as yogurt, almonds, soy milk, and dark leafy green veggies (such as kale and spinach), can also help keep your teeth strong. Green or black tea contains a substance called polyphenol that can kill or reduce bacteria in your mouth.
Even if you brush, floss, and avoid sugar during your pregnancy, you still need to visit your dentist. The dentist can examine your teeth and gums to address problems before they progress. Regular at-home oral care will help fight pregnancy gingivitis. There are toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain antiseptics intended to kill more of the bacteria that form plaque. They may help break down the film on your teeth that inflames your gums when you have pregnancy gingivitis.
Pregnancy gingivitis is an early form of periodontal disease. If pregnancy gingivitis progresses and becomes periodontitis, it may lead to teeth loss. Some studies have also shown a higher rate of preterm birth in pregnant women who had oral health concerns. One can see your dentist safely at any time during your pregnancy.
Some dentists don't recommend dental care during the first trimester of pregnancy, and may choose not to take X-rays, though there is little evidence that low radiation dental X-rays are harmful.
Women are more prone to develop gingivitis (red and swollen gums) when they're pregnant than at other times, because hormonal changes reduce the body's ability to ward off the bacteria that forms the film on your teeth. Hence it is very essential to encourage patients for regular dental check-ups especially during pregnancy.
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