There are many things in our lives that can have a massive effect on our health and wellness, yet none so jarring as pregnancy. This transformation takes a major toll on a woman’s body and no part is spared. Her rounded belly is just the beginning of the story. One of pregnancy’s more curious side effects is the way that it changes the chemistry of the oral cavity and increases risk for periodontal disease. Pregnant women are often excited about the changes taking place, however it’s extremely important that they pay attention to their teeth and not just their tummies.
Hormones, Hormones, Hormones
The second a child is conceived a woman’s body goes through an amazing transformation. Hormones rush in to change nearly everything about her body to prepare it for the impending child. These hormones are the cause of the “glow” and also an increased susceptibility to periodontal disease.
Progesterone is a natural female hormone that is increased exponentially during pregnancy to ready the uterus for the growing baby. However these hormones do not just stay in the uterus. The same chemicals that expand and the blood vessels to provide a growing baby with nourishment in utero also inflame the blood vessels elsewhere in the body including the gums. Chemicals called prostaglandins are responsible for this increased blood flow and they commonly cause inflammation. In gum tissue, this manifests as puffy gums that easily bleed. Inflammation in the mouth is never a good thing, however, it’s a reality for all pregnant women, and something every single one needs to keep in check.
Inflammation increases the chance for periodontal disease. Because the body will be in a constant state of inflammation during pregnancy, it is extremely important that women see their Jacksonville, Florida dentist and take impeccable care of their teeth.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
There are billions of bacteria in your mouth at any given moment. We do our best to care for our teeth and keep the amount of bad bacteria at bay by brushing and flossing each and every day. However pregnant women face an uphill battle because no matter how much they brush and floss, their gums are going to remain inflamed. Because inflammation is inevitable, managing bacteria is one of the most important things a woman can do for her oral health during pregnancy.
We’ve discussed the dangers of periodontal disease many times on this blog, and its far-reaching consequences have also been linked to preterm births. There is not a direct link to premature babies and mothers with periodontal disease; however, the research seems to suggest that the harmful bacteria may travel through the bloodstream and eventually come in contact with the placenta. This, the researchers hypothesis, causes an inflammatory response and cause stress to the mother’s and baby’s blood vessels resulting in preterm birth.
Studies have also shown that performing periodontal cleanings on pregnant women significantly lowers the amount of prostaglandins and overall reduces the amount of inflammation, which can be helpful for both baby and mother.
Protecting Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
Pregnant women must take the time to protect their teeth during this hormonally complicated time. The best way to start is by scheduling an appointment with your Jacksonville, Florida dentist. Dr. Shields knows all too well how important oral health is to overall wellness. Most especially how changes to one part of the body will always affect another. During your appointment Dr. Shields can examine you and let you know if you are at a significantly increased risk of developing periodontal disease during your pregnancy. She can explain to you the how periodontal disease can affect your total wellness and how it will affect your pregnancy. She can also advise you on the best ways to reduce your risk, and how to support a healthy oral microbiome and body as a whole.
Brushing and flossing your teeth is going to be an extremely important part of your daily routine now that you’re pregnant. By removing the bacteria and acids that can build up from those late night pickle and ice cream binges, you can remove the fuel harmful bacteria needs to develop into tooth decay and periodontal disease. If you have any questions about caring for your teeth while pregnant, please don’t hesitate to call and ask today. At our Jacksonville, Florida dental office, we are always happy to help our patients understand their oral and overall wellness, no matter what stage of life they’re in.