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Do women necessarily experience tooth loss during pregnancy?

Female body goes through complicated changes during the months of pregnancy. Hormonal changes affect the entire body, together with the oral cavity. Gingivitis (inflamed gums) is very common during this period. It is caused by the oestrogen receptors in the oral mucous membrane. Future mothers easily get frightened by this, because they do not want to undergo medical treatments because of the baby. Fortunately, there are harmless materials available for dental treatment, of which pregnant women do not have to be afraid at all. For those however, who plan expectancy, it is advisable to undergo the treatments before the pregnancy, so later only cleansing and will be necessary. The idea, that during each pregnancy women lose a few teeth, was widespread among the earlier generations. Today we know that by adequate oral hygiene, it does not have to happen.

First of all, hormonal changes during pregnancy increase the risk of Gingivitis. Gingival pad caused by the raising levels of oestrogen and progesterone, facilitate Gingivitis, and accelerate the multiplication of pathogens causing periodontal disease. Changes in the condition of the gums are the most explicit between the second and eighth months. Hormonal changes accelerate sensitivity for bacterial plaque, so the already existing Gingivitis gets more serious: pregnancy Gingivitis develops.

It is important to know that Gingivitis is a reversible clinical picture that heals without permanent damage in most cases. Its importance lays in its ability to raise attention to the possible danger (irreversible damage). The first sign of Gingivitis is bleeding, which appears even at the slightest impact (e.g. brushing), and can be ceased with the appropriate treatment. However, if the condition is long-lasting or regular, the inflammation may spread to the deeper-lying supporting structures, and causes permanent damage in the bone-and connective tissues, but the symptoms are still limited to the bleeding. These issues develop slowly and latently, and cause excursion and loss of teeth.

The second reason behind tooth loss is the process of tooth decay, which becomes urgent during pregnancy without regular dental check-ups. In this case also, the process takes a longer time to develop; acids produced by bacteria in the film soften the surface of the teeth, creating smaller cavities. These cavities grow without pain, and they collapse due to a bite on a harder food and because of the uncontrollable breakages the extraction of the tooth will become necessary. In more fortunate cases restoration of the teeth might worth a try, but by this time any usage of anaesthetics, X-rays, painkillers or antibiotics is questionable.

Because of the above mentioned it is of utmost importance for the future mothers to pay extra attention on oral hygiene. The emphasis is on the risks: recognition and treatment of Gingivitis, professional oral hygiene, scaling, and treatment of small cavities are of utmost importance. By these the risks of tooth loss can be decreased or even abolished.

What to do for these results?

Understanding the process can help to cease the causes. For the development of gingival diseases the primary reason is the plaque, which is a transparently white, sticky film consisting of scrapings, epithelial cells, salivary proteins, and microorganisms (pathogens). The film is bound to the surface of the teeth chemically; but it can only be removed mechanically: by brushing.

If the film is not removed by brushing regularly, it can accumulate on and under the gum, triggering Gingivitis. However, it is still not late to intervene with the help of a toothbrush and dental floss. If the brushing is regularly inadequate somewhere, (at places that are hard to reach), minerals get into the film, cause it to calcify, turn it into calculus.

Calculus, just like microscopic pores of marine sponges, stores an ever growing number of bacteria, which make the inflammation permanent: the patient cannot intervene any longer. The lasting inflammation spreads to the deeper-lying tissues, and destroys more and more of the supporting structures. This tooth accretion can only be removed by a dental hygieneist or a dentist.

If you think you have a gum problem, see your doctor immediately, because at an initial phase Gingivitis is reversible and curable. In case of the permanent damage, the danger lays not in that it destroys 10-20 % of the supporting structures in a few months, but in that, that the next films and plaques will be deposited in place of the destroyed tissues. The next wave of damage starts from here: the damages add up.

Signs of Gingivitis

  1. gingival pad, red gums
  2. rosy, tapering gum between the teeth flattens, gets lilac shade
  3. bleeding during brushing, flossing
  4. bad breath, unpleasant taste in the mouth

What can we do for healthy gums?

During pregnancy Gingivitis is more probable to develop, it can be found in 60-70% of expecting women. However Gingivitis can be eliminated with proper plaque removal. For a successful everyday oral care not only a good toothbrush and floss is necessary, but it is also important to get a professional scaling by your hygienist.

In order to reserve the health of teeth and gum, it is necessary to brush your teeth twice a day after meals, and floss regularly. For good oral hygiene you need a good brush and fluoride toothpaste. With oscillating-rotating (3D) electronic toothbrushes you can remove film more effectively than in case of a regular toothbrush, and it is recommended to spend more time on the evening oral care. Dentists advise to change your brush in every three months. The chances for Gingivitis increase during pregnancy, so it is recommended to see your dentist and dental hygienist several times during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy and oral hygiene

In conclusion, tooth loss during pregnancy is absolutely avoidable today. Te pregnancy Gingivitis is a sign, that her oral hygiene is not adequate (or not everywhere). The first sign of it is the regular bleeding of the gum (without injury), in which case is it recommended to see the dentist. Besides the necessary depuration and scaling you can get advice where to brush more carefully, what tools you can choose from, and we can show you how effective your brushing is, by plaque disclosure. When needed, the starting cavities can be cured, which helps to avoid the greater stress of more serious interventions.

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