While you are pregnant, you will likely be inundated with advice regarding your health and the health of your future child. But as you process the constant flood of information headed your way, you shouldn't ignore how your dental health can be impacted by and affect your pregnancy. Due to hormonal changes, pregnant women are more prone to gum disease, or periodontitis, than usual, and severe cases may have serious ramifications for your baby. Read on to learn why your gum health is so important during pregnancy and how you can safely combat gum disease.
Explaining the Increased Risk of Gum Disease During Pregnancy
Pregnancy fundamentally changes the way your body operates, and it can have a wide-ranging impact on your body and its chemical processes. When you are pregnant, your body secretes more of the female sex hormone called progesterone. Progesterone serves a number of functions throughout the body, some of which unfortunately tend to do more harm than good. When progesterone reaches your gum tissues through the blood stream, for example, it promotes the buildup of inflammatory cells in your gums, increasing the severity of any existing gum disease. This same phenomenon can be seen when taking hormonal birth control, and it leaves you vulnerable to infection and inflammation throughout your pregnancy.
Understanding the Importance of Treating Gum Disease While Pregnant
You might be thinking that you can deal with some swollen gums for a few months without any issues, but this gum disease may also negatively affect the health of your baby. Infected gum tissues produce a number of harmful substances that leak into your blood vessels and spread throughout your body. Periodontal disease has been linked to premature deliveries and underweight babies through a variety of mechanisms related to these damaging cells, which may stimulate early labor and impede the growth of your baby in the womb. Further research is still needed to understand this process more thoroughly, but until then you should do everything you can to avoid risking the progress of your pregnancy.
Treating Your Gum Disease Safely During Pregnancy
For most women, regular flossing and brushing is typically enough to ward off gum disease during pregnancy. If, however, you already had gum disease when you became pregnant, or if you still notice sensitivity and bleeding in your gums, schedule an exam with your dentist to seek safe treatments for the infection that will not jeopardize your pregnancy. This may include a course of pregnancy-approved antibiotics, or in more severe cases, surgery under light anesthesia. By taking care of gum disease as soon as you notice the symptoms, you can protect your developing baby while preserving your own oral health for years to come.
Contact a professional like Bonnie S Marshall to learn more.