Will pregnancy affect my oral health?
Expectant mothers experience elevated levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque, and is many cases can cause a condition known as "pregnancy gingivitis." Symptoms include swollen, red gums and bleeding of the gums when you brush. Remember that it is the bacteria in the plaque and not the hormones that cause gingivitis. Brushing, flossing and any other plaque removal aids that have been recommended will prevent gingivitis during pregnancy.
What are "pregnancy tumors?"
Pregnancy tumors (pyogenic granuloma) are rare, usually painless lesions that may develop on your gums in response to plaque. Although they are not cancerous, they should be treated.
Could gingivitis affect my baby's health?
New research suggests a link between pre-term, low birth weight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria, which cause gingivitis, can enter the bloodstream through your gums. If this happens, the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called "prostaglandins, " which are suspected to induce premature labor.
Can I receive dental treatment while I'm pregnant?
Good oral health is vital during your pregnancy. Continue with your regular dental cleaning and check-ups to avoid oral infections that can affect the fetus, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Major treatments that aren't urgent can be postponed until after the child is born. Emergency treatment can safely be done during pregnancy.
If I do need treatment, what drugs are safe?
One should be cautious of all drugs during pregnancy. Local anesthetics such as novocaine or lidocaine can be taken safely. If antibiotics are needed to treat an infection, many can be safely taken. For pain products containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are approved, but you should be wary of other over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Avoid using narcotics for pain until after the child is born.