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Are Pregnant Women Prone To Gingivitis?



One of the pitfalls of pregnancy, from an oral health standpoint, is that it brings about hormonal changes that place a woman at increased risk for oral health problems like inflammation of the gums, also known as gingivitis, and other forms of periodontitis (gum disease). Because of these fluctuating hormone levels it is estimated that 40% of women will develop gingivitis at some point during their pregnancy – a condition referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.”

Are Pregnant Women Prone To Gingivitis?

The reason that women are more predisposed to the condition during pregnancy is because of the greater levels of progesterone present in the body while a woman is with child, which create an ideal oral environment for gingivitis-causing bacteria to thrive and grow in. The biochemical progesterone, which is a hormone produced by a woman’s ovaries, also makes gum tissue hypersensitive to plaque and tends to create and exaggerate the immune response by the body to the presence of plaque. Many experts contend that if you already suffer from significant gum disease, pregnancy will most likely exacerbate it. The severity of pregnancy gingivitis usually occurs during the second trimester and the gums return to normal after the delivery of the baby.

The 40% figure would indicate that while the majority of women are not prone to pregnancy gingivitis, a significant percentage are. In order to manage this condition and added discomfort during pregnancy, pregnant women are advised to: have at least one oral checkup with their dentist during pregnancy to ensure that they are in good oral health; rinse their mouths, at least once daily, with salt water; brush their teeth at least twice a day (especially after vomiting or morning sickness) and; practice good nutrition.

One of the main reasons that ordinary gingivitis can become a magnified problem during pregnancy is the link that gum disease has been demonstrated to have to premature birth. Research conducted by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that pregnant women suffering from chronic gum or periodontal disease were four to seven times more likely to deliver their baby prematurely and underweight.

Gingivitis is not an inevitability during pregnancy, but the hormonal changes certainly place many women at an increased risk of gum disease. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk and severity of gingivitis and other gum and periodontal issues during pregnancy, but the first line of defence should be a consultation with a dental professional.

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Dr. Tali Waksman
A graduate from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Tali Waksman went on to work as the only dentist on a Native reserve, serving 2000 people after completing a residency at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. With a warm and friendly personality and close attention to detail, she treats every patient like family.