Pregnant? Hormonal Changes Increase Potential For Gingivitis


Posted on Feb 27, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Women who are pregnant should take extra measures to maintain a healthy mouth, for their own health as well as that of their unborn babies. Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and premature birth. One study showed that pregnant women with gum disease were 4 Р7 times more likely to deliver prematurely (before week 37) and underweight babies than mothers with healthy gums. Mothers with the most severe periodontal (gum) disease delivered most prematurely, at 32 weeks.

Blame varying hormonal levels. During pregnancy, hormonal changes increase the risk for gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontal disease. This is the cause for approximately 40% of women developing gingivitis during pregnancy, referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.

An increased level of progesterone in pregnancy makes oral bacterial growth easier, which forms gingivitis. Progesterone also makes gum tissues more sensitive to plaque. For those who have significant gum disease prior to pregnancy, being pregnant can make the condition worse.

Gum inflammation typically appears between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. Signs of pregnancy gingivitis range from gums that are red rather than a healthy pink. Gums will often bleed when brushing teeth and be swollen and tender in spots.

The goal is to prevent pregnancy gingivitis before it occurs. Be committed to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home, which includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily and swishing with an antimicrobial mouth rinse. Be sure to keep your 6-month cleanings and exams. These will remove any plaque buildup that has occurred between visits.

If you are seeing signs of gingivitis or gum disease (pregnant or not), call us at (828) 274-9440 for an examination. Once your gums are restored to a healthy state, maintaining a healthy mouth can be a simple part of your daily routine.

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