Q. How is dental health affected by pregnancy?
A. Two common myths about pregnancy and teeth are: "You loose a tooth for every pregnancy you have," and "If you don't get enough calcium during your pregnancy, your body takes it from your teeth."
Neither one is true. However, tooth decay and gum disease are still a concern during pregnancy. Taking good care of the mouth is important, not just for the mother, but also for the fetus.
Many women who previously had healthy teeth and gums, may notice that their gums become swollen, inflamed or bleed during their pregnancy. This condition is sometimes called "pregnancy gingivitis." It may appear as early as the first trimester and is the result of changing hormone levels and increased amounts of progesterone. An increase in hormones exaggerates the way gum tissues react to irritants in plaque. However, it is the plaque, the sticky layer of harmful bacteria that is constantly forming on teeth, not the hormone levels, which cause gum disease.
Gum disease has been shown to be linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Crowded teeth increase the risk of gingivitis, because they are harder to keep clean than straight teeth.