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Oral Health Effects on Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a delicate time and the height of health consciousness for most women. At this time, the body is not only functioning for one person, but also serves as a home for a developing baby. Women strive for perfect health during the whole 9-month duration, but not many of them are aware of the importance of having perfect dental health during pregnancy. Oral conditions have direct implications on their systemic health and have a specific impact on their baby's health in the prenatal stages.

Despite women taking extra care of their food intake or the amount of exercise they do everyday, there is still little knowledge about how a mother's oral health can impact her baby's health. While maintaining a good state of oral health may be difficult in a time when nausea is frequent, you can't even understand your tastebuds and the physical demands of growing weight in the abdominal area, this shouldn't be an excuse to ignore dental health.

As the child develops inside the womb, several oral diseases can creep into the mother's dental area.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Swollen and bleeding gums are a common scenario in pregnancy. Since hormones are changing during this phase, it also affects the blood flow in your veins, including those in your gum area. Increase of blood flow to the gums may cause swelling, sensitivity and irritability. The hormonal changes around the mouth is also your body's response against bacteria that causes periodontal diseases, which makes you more prone to gingivitis.

Gingival Lesions

Non-cancerous gingival lesions or pregnancy granuloma can also occur alongside other oral diseases mostly in the second or third trimester. The cause of these tumor-like growths in the gums is the rapid production of hormonal fluids during pregnancy such as estradiol and progesterone that affects the process of collagen metabolism. They appear in small, fiery-red lesions and can grow up to 2cm in diameter. It can bleed extensively when touched considering the location of the lesion.

Tooth Mobility

Because of the increase of blood flow in the gum area, the ligaments that support your teeth are temporarily loosened especially in the last trimester. Normally, healthy teeth wouldn’t experience tooth loss not unless there is a pre-existing damage in that area. While teeth mobility is temporary, the results are unfortunately permanent as you could develop malocclusions in the long run. Occurrence of teeth mobility is observable in the upper incisors, as indicated in the study of Klaus H. Rateitschak.

Dental Caries

Since there is a rapid change in hormonal activities during pregnancy, acidity in the mouth is not so surprising. Coupled with a pregnant woman's craving for sweets and sweetened beverages, acidity in the mouth could get really high that dental caries becomes a common occurrence during pregnancy. Also, calcium deposit in your body are depleted as the baby continues to develop his own bone structure. This has a weakening effect on your teeth that make them more susceptible to bacterial damage.

Could these dental health problems affect the unborn baby's health?

Dental problems can threaten an unborn baby's health. Bacteria that have been present in your mouth may travel through your bloodstream through the dental cavities. Once the bacteria enters the uterus, the chemical prostaglandins are produced and released to counteract the foreign material. This type of chemical is believed to be a cause of premature labor and low-birthweight babies.

Dental Appointments

Once pregnant, it is important to go to your dentist. The delicate human being that's growing in your body is entirely dependent on your health. Thus, scheduling appointments with your dentist is strongly recommended. Your dentist will give you a dental plan for your whole pregnancy term. It's good to let your dentist know about the changes you're experiencing in your teeth and gums as well. If needed, your dentist will prescribe you the proper vitamins that would be safe for you and your child.