Swollen, tender and bleeding gums are often experienced during pregnancy and may be caused by higher than normal progesterone levels. Pregnant women also have an increased blood supply to the mouth. These symptoms are often called, “pregnancy gingivitis” and it can affect as much as 1/2 of all pregnant women.
It has been known for some time that certain elements pass from the mother to the fetus through the placenta. elements such as alcohol and tobacco can travel from the mom to the baby creating birth defects.
Recent research has uncovered the fact that the bacterium “Fusobacterium nucleatum” has been linked to both premature birth and stillborn babies. This very bacterium is also present in gum infections. This bacterium is NOT found in the uterine area at all, so doctors are puzzled as to how it can be the cause of premature birth or stillbirth. The answer seems to be in the connection between gum disease in the mom and the passing of bacteria through the placenta.
The immune system of the pregnant woman relaxes slightly during pregnancy so that it does not reject the fetus. When gum disease is present there are 10,000 times the normal population of bacteria in the mouth. Bleeding gums, a common symptom of gum disease can mean, that the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and thus travel though the mom’s bloodstream and to the placenta where it enters the baby.
Women trying to conceive should visit the dentist as part of the preparation work for having a healthy baby.
Pregnant women should continue to see the dentist as instructed by their dentist and should also practice good dental hygiene at home.
It is especially important to floss while pregnant and to use a good anti-gum disease mouthwash.
Another concern when pregnant is that some research has shown that there may be a link between chronic gum disease and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication. Pregnant women who have preeclampsia experience high blood pressure and protein in their urine. It is not conclusive that the gum disease causes the preeclampsia only that women with preeclampsia were also found to have gum disease.
Pregnant women have special mouth issues that can develop. One such issue is the “pregnancy tumor (pyogenic granuloma)” that can grow to up to 3/4″ in size and is common to grow in an area that is affected by gingivitis. These pregnancy tumors can actually show up anywhere on the body but are most common in the mouth. These tumors usually disappear after the baby is born. If they persist, they can be removed. Pregnancy tumors are harmless and painless to the woman.
If any symptoms of gum disease pop up during pregnancy, it is important the the woman seek dental care to determine the cause and to provide treatment. Caring for her teeth is one more way a pregnant woman can take care of herself and her baby during pregnancy.