Friday, February 1, 2013

Pregnancy and your teeth

Pregnancy is a special time for couples. It is filled with excitement for the mother to be. Pregnancy can also be a stressful time as pregnancy brings with it the risk of complications like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and hypertension. One complication that most pregnant women do not consider is dental complications. If not treated, dental complications can complicate the pregnancy instead of only being a byproduct of the pregnancy. Some of the dental problems that pregnant women are likely to experience are pregnancy gingivitis, pregnancy tumors, and periodontal disease.

While you are pregnant, you should adjust your dental routine and be on the lookout for different indications of a dental issue. It is recommended that you have at least two checkups during your pregnancy; one for a cleaning and the other for a checkup. The optimal time to make the appointments is after the first trimester, as this is after your baby has formed its vital organs. Cleanings are not detrimental during any time during the pregnancy but, to be extra careful, waiting until the second trimester is best. 

If you have any tooth pain or notice changes in your gum line during your pregnancy, you should see your dentist immediately. These symptoms are signs of infection. Any infection, no matter how small, puts your body and baby at risk. 

Pregnancy gingivitis
Almost 60% of all pregnant women experience gingivitis during their pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis causes inflamed and red gums. It also causes bleeding during routine brushing and flossing. This is caused by bacteria between your teeth which cause the gums to become inflamed. Pregnant women are at high risk because of the increased levels of progesterone and estrogen in their bodies. The risk for gum disease increases in the second and third trimester. The best way to prevent pregnancy gingivitis is to continue with a good oral hygiene regimen during your pregnancy. During pregnancy, women find it difficult to keep up with regular doctor visits, let alone go to the dentist. This is a mistake as both are equally important to the baby’s and mother’s health.

Pregnancy tumors 

A pregnancy tumor is a growth that spontaneously occurs in the mouth during the second trimester. Pregnancy tumors are not cancerous and range in size from quite small to large enough to disrupt regular activities. Pregnancy tumors, appearing as a red or purple bump, can occur anywhere in the mouth. Upon closer inspection, the bump is attached to the gum tissue by a thin stem of skin. The tumor will bleed easily and many times will turn into an open sore. While the tumor itself is not dangerous, the appearance can cause alarm.  The dentist removes the tumor during a simple office procedure called a biopsy. The tissue is removed and then examined in a laboratory to ensure that it is benign. Once the woman gives birth, the tumors will become smaller and eventually disappear altogether. Pregnancy tumors can be prevented by having regular cleanings while pregnant. In some instances, however, there is no prevention because higher levels of hormones cause the growth.

Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gingivitis. Unlike gingivitis, periodontal disease affects the gums and jawbone. Periodontal disease is so severe that many times it requires surgical procedures to remove the decayed gums and restore the gum line. As with other pregnancy conditions of the mouth, frequent brushing, flossing and regular cleanings are key to preventing the disease.

If you are pregnant, add a dental exam to your medical schedule by the second trimester. Just as ultrasounds and other exams are vital to a healthy pregnancy, so is a trip to your dentist.

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