They may not think about it, but women need to be extra consistent in oral hygiene during pregnancy.
WebMD says that the hormonal changes pregnant women go through increase the risk of gum problems like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and its more severe cousin, periodontitis (gum disease).
The hormonal changes make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque and make the body react more severely to toxins resulting from plaque, according to WebMD. The hormones also make it easier for bacteria to grow in the mouth.
WebMD reports that 50-70 percent of pregnant women will develop gingivitis sometime during their pregnancy, though it usually occurs between the second and eight month of pregnancy. The symptoms range from redder-looking gums that bleed a little when brushed to severe bleeding and swelling of the gums.
Gum disease isn’t just an inconvenience, though. Several major studies have linked gum disease with premature birth, WebMD reports. One study showed that women with gum disease are four to seven times more likely to deliver prematurely. The more serious the oral disease, the more prematurely the mother is likely to deliver.
Researchers don’t yet know if good oral hygiene can help prevent premature birth in general, but this can help be prevented by maintaining good oral hygiene habits like regular brushing and flossing and rinsing the mouth with a fluoride mouthwash.