During pregnancy it is common for gums to be swollen and bleed, but it is not normal. The signs to look for in periodontal disease (gum disease) are receding gums, tenderness during brushing/flossing, bleeding, and swelling. These are signs that should not be ignored during pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, her progesterone hormones are increased, which can lead to gums that are tender, swollen, bleed, and possibly gum disease. Prevention of gum disease is not only beneficial at any given time, but especially during pregnancy because certain bacteria present in periodontal disease can pose a threat to the mother and the unborn baby.
Many studies have shown that women with untreated gum disease are more likely to deliver low birth weight babies, deliver prematurely, and possibly even miscarry. The bacteria from gum disease can travel through the blood stream to the placenta and cause the baby to go into distress and in turn the expectant mother can go into early labor. Having periodontal disease during pregnancy does not mean that your baby will be harmed, but it is important to know what risks periodontal disease poses to the baby or pregnancy.
The type of cleaning needed for an expectant mother with gum disease depends on how severe the disease is. If it is a deep cleaning that is recommended, local anesthesia may be required. According to the American Dental Association, studies have shown exposure to dental care and the use of local anesthetics during pregnancy is not associated with increased risk for major medical problems in newborns. To prevent any possible complications, it is critical for an expectant mother to have routine dental cleanings by her hygienist. In addition to dental cleanings, routine exams by a dentist are also important because dental issues can get worse and become more costly. Here in the Tri-Cities, we get asked questions about gums and pregnancy often. Don’t hesitate to call us, or your dental professional, to ask questions and get advice!
Jasmine Suarez, RDH