Over 60% of Women Get Gingivitis While Pregnant. Don’t Let It Happen to You.
What You Need to Know About Pregnancy Gingivitis
You’ve probably heard about gingivitis, the early-stage gum disease that causes inflamed, irritated gums. But did you know that expecting mothers have a higher risk of developing gingivitis while pregnant? In fact, between 60% to 70% of women will develop this disease at some point during their pregnancy.
Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy gingivitis, including how to recognize the symptoms, what to do to treat it, and how to prevent it from happening to you.
What is pregnancy gingivitis?
Pregnancy gingivitis is the same condition you might already know as gingivitis. The difference in the name simply refers to when expecting mothers suddenly develop this disease, despite not having the condition prior to pregnancy.
Pregnancy gingivitis is believed to occur for two reasons: hormonal changes and a decreased immune system.
An expecting mother’s body is going through an incredible transformation during pregnancy. With that comes a surge in hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are vital during pregnancy, but progesterone in particular is believed to increase plaque development during this time.
An increase in plaque bacteria coupled with a lowered immune system means your gums are much more sensitive than they may have been pre-pregnancy. Plaque can develop more quickly, and your gums will react with inflammation more readily. This combination is why pregnancy gingivitis is so common.
What are the symptoms of this disease?
Pregnancy gingivitis symptoms can be quite subtle at first, but as the gums remain irritated, you’ll begin to see signs of trouble.
The most common symptoms include:
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Gum tenderness, either by touch or when eating
- Gums that look red and puffy
- Halitosis despite good oral care
Pregnancy gingivitis can worsen without treatment and will eventually turn into moderate gum disease or even periodontitis. It’s important to always call your dentist if you suspect you have gingivitis, gum disease, cavities, or any other oral health issue. Remember, dental trouble is an even more urgent issue while pregnant.
How is pregnancy gingivitis treated?
Pregnancy gingivitis is treated in a few different ways, and all are safe for an expecting mother. If you have symptoms of this disease, your dentist will have you come in for a checkup. From there, they will examine your smile, check your gums, and diagnose the problem. For an experienced dentist, seeing the subtle signs of pregnancy gingivitis is very easy.
The first step in treating pregnancy gingivitis is removing the plaque buildup and bacteria that are causing the gum irritation. This involves a deep cleaning process called periodontal therapy. For a mild case of gingivitis, this cleaning may simply feel like a longer routine cleaning you’d normally get every six months.
After cleaning, your dentist will go over some guidelines for at-home dental care, including a review of proper brushing and flossing habits and advice that’s unique and useful for your smile. They’ll also chat with you about your diet and offer guidance on a tooth- and gum-friendly diet during pregnancy.
Chances are if you do have pregnancy gingivitis, your dentist will want to see you more frequently to prevent a flare-up from occurring. They may recommend returning every three or four months until all signs of gingivitis are gone.
How can I prevent this disease from happening?
The best way to prevent pregnancy gingivitis is by prioritizing your oral hygiene at home and being aware of what you’re eating. Seeing your dentist for a checkup and cleaning is also crucial, as you could have gingivitis without realizing it.
For your at-home dental care, you should stick to the general guidelines of brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each session. Brush morning and night, and always be sure to go to bed with clean teeth. You should also floss at least once per day or whenever you feel any stuck food between your teeth. Upgrading to a powered toothbrush and a water flosser can elevate your at-home care and help you achieve a better clean.
As far as diet goes, keep an eye on your sugar, starch, and carbohydrate consumption. Pregnancy cravings often lead expectant mothers to not eat the healthiest snacks, but focusing on making main meals healthy and nutritious will really help your oral health. Brushing after a sweet or starchy snack will also protect your gum health.
The Tomasik Family Dental team will guide you through prenatal dental care.
Dr. Tomasik and his team will be by your side through your pregnancy, providing you with gentle, modern prenatal dental care. Our team will help you create an at-home dental care routine that’s easy to follow and effective at preventing pregnancy gingivitis as well as other oral health issues. We’ll also provide necessary dental treatment if gingivitis, tooth decay, or a nasty toothache occurs while you’re expecting.
You can book a visit with us by calling our Bee Cave, TX, office or requesting an appointment online.