Pregnancy is a time that comes with many physical changes, more so than we consciously realize. One of the hormonal changes that take place, even beginning in early pregnancy, can increase your chances of developing gingivitis and even gum disease, or periodontitis. Due to fluctuating hormonal levels about 50-70 percent of moms will come down with gingivitis at some point during each pregnancy. This is called pregnancy gingivitis.
Progesterone is a pregnancy hormone that helps the body to remain pregnant. Unfortunately, this hormone can have some downfalls to it, such as making pregnant moms more tired, causing nasal congestion and constipation. Progesterone can also make it easier for certain types of bacteria that cause gingivitis to grow. It also can make gum tissues more sensitive to plaque and make the body overreact, in a sense, to the plaque that is present.
Practicing good oral hygiene is always important, but it is ever more important than if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It is recommended that you brush at least twice a day and floss at least once per day. In addition, using an antimicrobial mouth rinse is a good idea to help combat bad breath and plaque.
Sadly, research has shown there is a link between pregnancy gingivitis and premature birth. Pregnant women who have gum disease were found to be four to seven times more likely to have a premature birth than those who did not have gum disease. There was a correlation found between the severity of the gum disease and the earlier the birth. Not only that, but poor oral hygiene can lead to an increase risk of heart disease, as bacteria from the mouth settle into the blood stream.
Floss is a major part of oral hygiene, as it removes plaque and food particles. With so many different types of dental floss to choose from these days, picking one that is right for you can be quite confusing. The bottom line is that all floss types work well, but they have to be used daily. The type of floss you use does not seem to have a significant impact on your dental or oral health, just as long as you are using floss to begin with. One study showed that flossers preferred to use wide polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) floss. This floss is less likely to shred or break and more easily glides between teeth. If you are new to flossing or have not flossed for a while, this type of floss may be best for you. Electric flossers seem to remove the most plaque, but they are not recommended over any other type of floss. If you are pregnant or just normally have sensitive gums, waxed floss might work best for you, as it is easier to get in and out in between teeth. You can also get flavored flosses, such as mint or cinnamon to help freshen breath. Remember to not be overwhelmed by the different types of dental floss, just remember that flossing itself is very important in prevention of gum disease.
Gingivitis should be a health concern for us all, but especially for the pregnant woman. Pregnancy gingivitis runs grave consequences such as premature labor. Although, gingivitis can have negative consequences for anyone, including heart disease and loss of teeth. In order to avoid gingivitis and any of its nasty consequences it is vital to start and maintain a daily oral hygiene routine. This routine should at minimum consist of brushing in the morning and before bed, as well as flossing at least once a day. Adding in an antimicrobial mouth rinse can also help prevent plaque build -up and gingivitis. Discuss your oral care and symptoms with your dentist and be sure to schedule regular appointments every six months. Preventing gingivitis, even during pregnancy can be as simple as regular brushing and flossing.