Are dental problems normal during pregnancy?

I am eight weeks pregnant. My gums recently have become very swollen and irritated, making it almost impossible to enjoy a meal. I have read that sometimes women develop dental problems during pregnancy. Is this a problem that will go away in due time?

Question:

It is common to have dental problems associated with pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis is probably most common. With this condition, the gums are usually red and swollen. They can also bleed easily and become very sore or sensitive.

This increased gingival inflammation is usually first seen around the second month of pregnancy and reaches its maximum around the eighth month of pregnancy, due to an increased level of circulating progesterone and estrogen. The usual decrease in inflammation in the ninth month follows a decrease in the level of these hormones.

Studies have also shown that there is an alteration in the bacterial levels surrounding the gum tissue, and that the immune system responds differently to plaque during pregnancy.

The best way to avoid or alleviate the gingival problems associated with pregnancy is to practice excellent oral hygiene:

  • Brush at least two times a day.
  • Carefully floss at least once a day.
  • Rinse with mouthwash or warm salt water, but be careful not swallow it. The warm salt water can help to soothe the inflamed tissues.
  • Schedule regular dental visits and periodic professional teeth cleanings.

    It is possible that calculus or tartar below the gumline may be present, which will constantly irritate the gums, creating more inflammation. Some scaling and root planing may be necessary, although it is advisable stick with routine teeth cleaning during the first trimester. If any scaling and root planing is needed, it should wait until the second trimester.
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