There are certain times in your life when your hormone levels rise and fall dramatically. These times include puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. While hormone fluctuations are considered normal during these life events, these can heighten your risk for problems with your natural teeth as well as your dental implants. Here are three ways pregnancy can affect your mouth, and what you can do about them:
As estrogen levels rise and fall during pregnancy, gum tissue can change. During pregnancy, you may notice that your gums bleed without the slightest provocation. While bleeding gums are common when you brush and floss your teeth, during pregnancy they may bleed spontaneously for no reason.
After your baby is born, however, your hormone levels will stabilize, and once they do, your gum tissue will revert to normal. While pregnant, make sure you visit your dentist on a regular basis for checkups and professional cleanings. When you take care of your teeth and gums, you are less likely to experience the negative effects of pregnancy on your oral cavity.
During pregnancy and menopause, women can experience bone changes, including changes in the bones that support your teeth. This can lead to ill-fitting dental implants, loose teeth, and tooth loss. If you are pregnant or in menopause, see your physician, who will determine if you need treatment to help keep your bones healthy and strong.
Interventions that promote bone health include increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake, not smoking, exercising, limiting your intake of caffeine, and, in the case of menopause, taking estrogen supplements.
While estrogen will help maintain bone health, it is not appropriate for those with personal or family histories of breast cancer. Certain types of breast cancer are fueled by estrogen, so taking hormone supplements may heighten your risk for this type of malignancy.
Another type of gum problem that can develop during pregnancy includes periodontitis. This is a severe form of gingivitis and can lead to bone destruction in your jaw and surrounding bone structures.
At the first sign of gingival redness, inflammation, soreness, or bleeding, see your dentist. Make sure you tell your dentist that you are pregnant, because your obstetrician may recommend that you forego dental x-rays, especially if you are still in the first trimester of your pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and experiencing dental problems, see your dentist. The sooner oral problems are recognized and treated, the less likely you will be to experience long-standing or permanent problems inside your mouth.