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Bahar Rowhani, DDS
Pregnancy and Oral Health
Dr. Ronald Hauptman, DDS and Bahar Rowhani, DDS

Pregnancy and Oral Health

It is common knowledge that weight gain, occasional cravings and mood swings may affect pregnant women. But did you know that pregnancy also causes changes in the mouth?

Pregnant women need to know the difference between myth and fact when it comes to their oral health. One commonly held belief is that women's teeth become softer and more vulnerable to cavities during pregnancy as calcium moves from the mother's teeth into the baby's developing teeth. Not true!

However, there are some real changes that mothers-to-be should be aware of. Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the body to respond more severely to the presence of plaque. Increased levels of progesterone, in particular, foster the growth of oral bacteria and make gum tissue more sensitive to inflammation.

A majority of women will get gingivitis at some point during pregnancy. Gingivitis makes the gums red and puffy, and prone to bleeding. This condition can cause discomfort and bad breath. Dental research shows that women with gingivitis, when compared with women who do not have the condition, are seven times as likely to have low birth weight babies.

Research on the subject is just beginning, but periodontitis is linked to higher levels of C-reactive protein, an acute-phase protein whose concentration in the blood increases in response to inflammation. CRP, in turn, is tied to preterm delivery and other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

In addition, as many as one in ten pregnant women will develop what are known as pregnancy tumors. A pregnancy tumor is merely an inflammatory reaction that occurs on the gums in response to a local irritant. Pregnancy tumors usually appear on the upper gum line, and they look like red lumps with deep red pinpoint markings.

Don't let the name scare you these growths are not cancerous, nor are they contagious. They can, however, make speaking or eating uncomfortable.

Pregnancy gingivitis is preventable, though. Good oral hygiene is crucial during this time. It is important to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and use an antimicrobial mouth rinse.

If you have a professional cleaning scheduled, do not skip it merely because you are pregnant dental cleanings are even more important during pregnancy.

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