What is gum disease in pregnancy?
Gingivitis is a common gum disease that affects many pregnant mothers. According to the Centre for Disease Control, 60 to 75% of pregnant women have pregnancy gingivitis. This includes the early stage gingivitis to more advanced periodontal disease. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause changes in the kinds of microorganisms in the oral environment. Those that cause gingival disease increase in number beyond the norm and thus increase the risk.
What are the symptoms?
Some of the symptoms include:
- Bleeding on brushing
- Soft gums
- Painful gums
- Shiny and swollen gums
- Bad breath
These symptoms increase in severity towards the second trimester, continuing up to a few months postnatal.
The OBS/GYN or the dentist do the diagnosis based on one’s symptoms and signs observed during observation. Dental x-rays may be necessary for advanced disease, and in that case, your oral healthcare provider takes the precautions to protect your child and yourself.
Treatment such as dental cleaning helps to reduce the bacterial load, but you must supplement this with proper oral health as suggested by your dentists.
For prevention, you may:
- Brush twice a day (especially after meals)
- Gargle daily with warm saline water
- Schedule dental visits
- Lower intake of sugary foods and beverages
- Quit smoking or using tobacco.
The prognosis is very good and the gums usually return to normal after giving birth. Pay attention to the gums during the antenatal period, as they can be a source of complications, such as loose teeth and heart disease among others. Complications to the foetus include preterm labour, low birth weight and restriction of the baby’s growth.
Remember, pregnancy gingivitis is not the same as regular gum disease. You should avoid using mouthwashes or toothpaste that contains alcohol, as they can be harmful to the baby.
Overall, pregnancy gingivitis is a common condition that is easily managed with the proper treatment. Be proactive and seek professional dental care early.