Pregnancy Gingivitis: What moms should know…..

Pregnancy gingivitis is a transient condition often associated with pregnancy, and it may cause additional discomfort in an already stressful state for the body. The hormones involved, estrogen and progesterone, are secreted in progressively greater concentrations throughout most of pregnancy. While this is a defense mechanism designed for preparing a woman's body for the journey ahead, the resulting flood of hormones results in a variety of effects on all body systems, including the woman's oral health.

Hormones tell the kidneys to retain water in order to build blood volume to have enough to nourish the placenta. Thus, a pregnant woman has 40% more fluid in her body. As a result, this increases the amount of fluid in all the cells in the body, including the gum tissues, which causes them to become "puffy." Between the time of conception and the seventh month of pregnancy, hormones will triple in quantity, and then remain at that heightened level until delivery.

Meanwhile, as if women do not have enough to contend with during this stage, the pregnant patient with hormones out of whack is swollen and tender and sometimes cannot do an effective job with her oral hygiene.

However, this condition can be almost entirely avoided. It is the bacteria, not the hormones, which cause the gingivitis. Despite the fact that the statistics reveal 50-75% of all pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis, that doesn't have to include you. Because gums can be painful, puffy, and bleeding during pregnancy, the tendency is to avoid touching them. However, it is imperative that you practice good oral hygiene during pregnancy to avoid both tooth decay and gum infections. Pregnancy, with its three-fold increase in hormones, may exaggerate the body's normal response to dental plaque.

Brushing, flossing, and irrigating daily (all done gently but deliberately) are important in preventing gingivitis, during pregnancy and anytime in your life. In addition, it is important to pay attention to eating more healthfully for yourself and your baby, by substituting fruits, cheese, nuts, and vegetables for those sugary foods you might have enjoyed before becoming pregnant. If your gums are tender and brushing is painful, try ice, or helpful over the counter products that will soothe painful gums.

In the end, in addition to your meticulous homecare, one of the best methods of combating pregnancy gingivitis is to have an additional visit with the Dental Hygienist during your pregnancy.   Sunnybrook Dental highly recommends this (my wife had this ‘extra’ visit done with both of our children) and wants to help you to achieve this goal.   As most dental benefit programs will not have additional coverage for this visit, we will have a “pregnancy special” of $75 for your mid-partum cleaning.