Gingivitis is an irritation of the gums caused by naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria forms a sticky substance called plaque on the teeth and below the gum line. The bacteria gives off toxins that can irritate the gums causing them to become red and swollen. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to gum disease (also called periodontitis) that can lead to tooth loss and other oral health concerns.
Due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to gingivitis. In fact, more than half of all pregnant women will develop pregnancy gingivitis at some point during their pregnancy. Signs of pregnancy gingivitis include red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Women with gum disease prior to becoming pregnant tend to see their condition get worse during the pregnancy.
Gingivitis is usually very mild and is easily treated, but studies have linked gum disease to premature births. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, women with gum disease are four to seven times more like to give birth prematurely or to underweight babies. It is very important to maintain good oral health habits during pregnancy.
Fortunately, prevention of gum disease and gingivitis is not difficult. Follow good oral health habits such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily will go a long way toward the prevention of gum disease. Using an anti-microbial mouthwash will also help prevent gum disease. Finally, see your dentist regularly for teeth cleaning and dental checkups. A professional cleaning will help prevent and even reverse gingivitis.
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