Your Mouth is Pregnant, Too

Women often notice changes in their oral health that are specific to pregnancy. These changes can be alarming if you're not expecting them. Here's an overview of some of these pregnancy-related dental conditions:

Pregnancy Gingivitis-Your gums look red and they bleed when you brush your teeth. Sometimes there's severe swelling and bleeding. This condition may start during the first trimester, peaking around the eighth month, and improving after delivery. Pregnancy gingivitis tends to affect the front of the mouth.

While the symptoms are the same as for regular gingivitis, the causes of the condition are different in pregnant women. High levels of progesterone cause an imbalance that may enhance the growth of the oral bacteria that can cause gingivitis. A woman's immune system may also be off-kilter during pregnancy and this may cause a greater susceptibility to gingivitis-causing bacteria.

Good oral hygiene involving daily flossing and brushing along with the use of an antimicrobial mouthwash may help keep gingivitis under control. Sometimes a professional cleaning is all that is needed to restore the gums to good health. The best time to have a cleaning is during the second trimester. Periodontal surgery should be postponed until after delivery.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Pregnancy Tumor (Pyogenic Granuloma)-Between 2-10% of pregnant women develop a growth on the gums that is not cancerous or harmful but may cause discomfort. Granulomas tend to develop during the second trimester. The red nodules can be found along the upper line of your gums, though they may be found elsewhere in your mouth, as well. The growths bleed with ease and may form an ulcer, or become crusty. The growths are attached to the gum by a thin strip of tissue.

This condition tends to occur in women with pregnancy gingivitis and poor oral hygiene is a factor in its development. The growths disappear after the delivery of your child, but if they interfere with speech or eating, you may need to have them removed during pregnancy. Bad news: the growths then grow back, about half the time.

Frequent Vomiting

Tooth Erosion-Frequent vomiting during pregnancy can wear away the enamel behind your front teeth. Always brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth after vomiting to prevent tooth erosion.

Dry Mouth-Lots of pregnant women find they have a problem with dry mouth. Make sure you drink lots of water and suck on sugarless hard candies or chew gum as a way to stimulate the secretion of saliva in your mouth.

Too Much Saliva-This is a less common condition of pregnancy in which some women may feel they have too much saliva in their mouths. This tends to happen in the first few weeks of a pregnancy and disappears as you enter your second trimester. There may be an associated feeling of nausea.

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