During pregnancy, the body goes through various hormonal changes. When the hormones “play crazy,” it also affects the mouth and teeth. The gums are supplied with more blood, are softer and more sensitive than usual – even against bacterial attacks. It swells faster, at the gum edge bacteria settle easier and form a coating. In addition, the salivation is reduced during pregnancy: saliva has antibacterial and neutralizes acids – this natural protection of the teeth is weakened during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, dental plaque and tartar irritate the gums more than usual, causing gum inflammation (gingivitis) to occur more quickly. If left untreated, inflammation may spread to the dental bed and the periodontal bacteria may affect the embryo.
But how does an expectant mother recognize this problem? The gums are red and swollen, when brushing it often starts to bleed. Pregnant women often react incorrectly to this bleeding of the gums: Instead of continuing to operate the oral hygiene properly, they reduce it – for fear of further bleeding.
Risk of premature birth
Numerous studies show that periodontal disease increases the risk that a baby will be born before the 37th week of pregnancy or at a birth weight of less than 2,500 grams. How a periodontitis is a risk factor for a premature birth is controversial. There are two explanations: Bacteria from the mouth could cause premature rupture of membranes and labor, or the bacteria causing paradontitis inhibit the growth of the fetus.
What should pregnant women do for their dental health?
To prevent tooth decay and gum problems, an expectant mother should remove plaque daily and clean the interdental space regularly and completely from food scraps. This succeeds, e.g. ideal with a special oral irrigator. Women who vomit frequently during pregnancy should rinse their mouth thoroughly with water immediately after vomiting. So they avoid that the acid from the stomach attacks the tooth enamel. A low-sugar and low-acid diet also promotes dental health.
The teeth of the unborn child
As early as the sixth week of gestation, the toothed ridges develop, which contain the germinal devices for the 20 deciduous teeth and the later growing 32 permanent teeth. From the 20th week of pregnancy, the enamel is formed. In order to form bones and teeth, the child needs minerals. This gets it from what the expectant mother eats and drinks. A balanced diet during pregnancy is also important for the tooth development of the child! The child also benefits from good dental health of the mother before and after pregnancy after childbirth: tooth decay can be transmitted from the mother to the child, for example, when both lick the same spoon!