Pregnancy and Oral Health
How does pregnancy affect my oral health? It's a myth that calcium is lost from the mother's teeth and "one tooth is lost with every pregnancy." But you may experience some changes in your oral health during pregnancy. The primary change is it surge in hormones - particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone -which is linked to an increase in the amount of plaque on your teeth.
How does a build-up of plaque affect me? If the plaque isn't removed, it can cause gingivitis-red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed. So-called "pregnancy gingivitis" affects most pregnant women to some degree, and generally begins to surface in the second trimester. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, a more serious form of gum disease.
Pregnant women are also at risk for developing pregnancy tumors, inflammatory, benign growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated. Normally, the tumors are left alone and will usually shrink on their own, but if a tumor is very uncomfortable and interferes with chewing, brushing or other oral hygiene procedures, the dentist may decide to remove it.
How can I prevent these problems? You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gumline. You should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when possible. You should also floss thoroughly each day. If tooth brushing causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwashes. Good nutrition-Particularly plenty of vitamin C and B12-help keep the oral cavity healthy and strong. More frequent cleanings from the dentist will help control plaque and prevent gingivitis. Controlling plaque also will reduce gum irritation and decrease the likelihood of pregnancy tumors.
Bad breath (a.k.a. oral malodor/fetor oris/halitosis) is a very common but insidious human predicament, in that it is rarely experienced by the offender. Since it is so personal, the one having it may never get a clue from those affected by it.
Studies indicate that this condition arises directly from either exhaled digestive gases, various conditions within the mouth, or a combination of both. Dental plaque bacteria that reside between the teeth and gums, tongue, and cheeks can absorb certain foods that have a high content of volatile sulfur compounds (VSC's). This alone can be offensive, especially the morning after a meal high in VSC's. Aside from the foods that have a high content of VSC's, the plaque by itself that causes gum disease (periodontal disease or pyorrhea), is definitely the most common cause of bad breath. Add to this, high VSC foods such as garlic, etc., and you have a walking halitosis factory - an offender usually not "in the know".