Thinking About Being a Mom? Don't Forget to Floss
Litvin - If you are considering pregnancy, you should know that in addition to taking your vitamins and eating healthy foods, now is the time to step up your oral hygiene routine. Expectant mothers often experience increased gingivitis or pregnancy gingivitis beginning in the second or third month of pregnancy that increases in severity throughout the eighth month. In addition to the oral consequences, periodontal disease during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of giving birth to a premature and underweight baby.
An increase in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque and may cause swelling, bleeding or redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. "About half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis. However, women with no gingivitis prior to pregnancy are unlikely to experience pregnancy gingivitis," said Litvin DDS, a local periodontist and member of the American Academy of Periodontology. "As many people are unaware of the status of their periodontal health, a visit to a dentist or periodontist for a periodontal evaluation before getting pregnant is a good idea."
Alterations in psychology and behavior during pregnancy tend to make some women pay less attention to personal care. However, if women actually make an effort to pay increased attention to oral hygiene during pregnancy, it can help minimize the effects of hormonal changes in the mouth, said Dr Litvin. In addition, it is important to continue with your regular dental cleanings and checkups to avoid periodontal infection.
Women who use oral contraceptives may be susceptible to the same oral health conditions that affect pregnant women. They may experience red, bleeding and swollen gums. And, women who use oral contraceptives should know that taking drugs sometimes used to help treat periodontal disease, such as antibiotics, may lessen the effect of an oral contraceptive. Always tell your dental professionals about any prescriptions that you are taking.