You may experience some changes in your oral health during pregnancy. The primary changes are due to a surge in hormones – particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone –- that can cause your gum tissues to exaggerate a normal reaction to plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that covers your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed daily, it can eventually harden into tartar and may increase your risk of gingivitis, a condition with symptoms of red, swollen and tender gums that are more likely to bleed. So-called “pregnancy gingivitis” affects most pregnant women to some degree, and it generally begins to surface as early as the second month. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.
Pregnant women are also at risk for developing pregnancy tumors, inflammatory, non-cancerous growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated. Normally, the tumors are left alone and will usually shrink on their own after the baby’s birth. But if a tumor is uncomfortable and interferes with chewing, brushing or other oral hygiene procedures, the dentist may decide to remove it.
You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gumline. You should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when possible. You should also floss thoroughly each day. If brushing exacerbates morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with antiplaque and fluoride mouthwashes. More frequent cleanings from the dentist will reduce gum irritation, help control plaque, prevent gingivitis and decrease the likelihood of pregnancy tumors. Be sure to check your dental benefits, as some Delta Dental benefit plans cover an extra cleaning for pregnant women