Pregnancy, Gum Disease and Your Oral Health

Posted by: Dr. Erwin Su, on July 31, 2013

Women may find that their gum tissues can change throughout their lifespan or even monthly cycles.  These changes can be mild and unnoticeable, or hormone influences may cause their gums to be dramatically affected to where normal oral hygiene practices are not effective.

Healthy gum tissue appears smooth; typically coral colored (it may be of a darker brown pigment depending on your skin type); and have sharp points between each of the teeth, called papilla. Unhealthy gum tissue appears as rounded or blunted papilla, bleeding during brushing or flossing, and swollen margins along the teeth. Unhealthy tissue may even appear bluish or purple in color.

How pregnancy impacts oral health

Pregnancy induced gingivitis is one of the most common conditions that women experience related to how hormones affect their oral health. Even with proper maintenance, gums may bleed or swell sporadically throughout the pregnancy. In rare cases, pregnancy “tumors” may even appear to develop along the gums. Although the name is more alarming than what is actually present, these tumors can appear unsightly and cause the mother concern. These symptoms almost always resolve themselves after the woman gives birth.

Women that undergo ovulation induction or in-vitro fertilization treatment can expect even more symptoms than that seen in pregnancy induced gingivitis. These treatments use medications that are highly related to drug-induced symptoms of gum infections. Not only are bleeding and swollen gums more common, but the medications can also increase your chance of developing problems such as periodontal disease.

Regarding birth control and hormone treatments

Taking birth control pills is not thought to cause any symptoms of bleeding, swollen gums. During menopause women may or may not experience symptoms, but most women that take hormone replacement therapy find that symptoms improve. Hormone replacement therapy can also decrease your risk of bone and tooth loss due to periodontal disease.

Seek a consultation

If your symptoms continue to persist on a chronic basis, you may be experiencing a more severe dental infection and need professional treatment. Existing infections like periodontal disease can predispose you to bone loss, premature labor and low birth weight infants.

Your dentist and hygienist are able to assess your gum tissue and let you know if the condition is plaque-induced or suspected to be from another cause. Dedicated brushing along the gumlines, and flossing below the gums each day are the best ways to ensure that you are not already prone to develop gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Categories: Dental Health