Pregnant women are at risk of developing some oral health problems that they would not have to face at other times. The two most common dental problems associated with pregnancy are gingivitis and tumors. Hormonal changes during pregnancy are responsible for these problems.
It is estimated that 40 percent of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Symptoms can include red gums that bleed when brushing, severe swelling, and bleeding gums. Pregnancy gingivitis usually appears between the second and eighth months.
Higher levels of the hormone progesterone can make it easier for the bacteria that cause gingivitis to grow, make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque, and exaggerate the body’s response to toxins caused by plaque. If you already have gum disease, being pregnant can make it worse.
You can prevent pregnancy gingivitis by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using an antimicrobial mouth rinse. It is also important to get your teeth cleaned by a dentist or hygienist while you are pregnant.
Gum disease during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth. Women with gum disease are four to seven times more likely to deliver premature and underweight babies than mothers who have healthy gums.
A pregnancy tumor is a large lump with deep red pinpoint marks that forms on inflamed gum tissue, usually near the upper gum line. The lump glistens and may bleed and crust over. The tumor can make it difficult to eat and speak. A pregnancy tumor is not cancerous and cannot be spread to other people. It is a severe inflammatory reaction to irritation, typically from food or plaque.
Although pregnancy tumors can appear at any time, they usually occur in the second trimester. About 10 percent of women develop pregnancy tumors. They often occur in women who have pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy tumors are also known as pyogenic granuloma, granuloma of pregnancy, lobular capillary hemangioma, and pregnancy epulides.
Pregnancy tumors usually disappear after the baby is born. If a tumor makes it difficult to eat, a dentist or specialist can remove it with a simple procedure performed with local anesthesia. In about half of cases, the tumors return. If the tumor is not removed, the dentist can identify and treat its cause. You can reduce your chance of developing pregnancy tumors by following good oral hygiene guidelines.