It may sound like a made-up medical term, but pregnancy gingivitis is all too real. If you've been monitoring the news headlines, you may have noticed that this topic has appeared multiple times, thanks to several scientific investigations into the connections between bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease and pre-term births.
Here's a quick primer on why it's important for mothers-to-be to keep their breath fresh and their mouths clean.
During pregnancy, it's common for women to experience bad breath, since their hormone levels change often enough that oral bacteria can take advantage and grow out of control. Expectant mothers may also smell their own halitosis more often, since their sense of smell can be heightened.
While it may be tempting for an expectant mother to ignore something as apparently mild as bad breath, this odor can be a precursor for pregnancy gingivitis. Many health experts recommend using a specialty breath freshening mouthwash to knock out odor- and gum disease-causing microbes in a one-two punch.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), gum irritation is to be expected for mothers-to-be. The organization explains that hormonal changes increase circulation in the gums, potentially making them red and swollen. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that oral microorganisms can take hold very easily during pregnancy. The APA states that because of these conditions, the risk of tooth decay and pregnancy gingivitis begins to rise during the second trimester.
To avoid pregnancy-related gum disease, it's best to keep a rigorous oral care schedule. Try brushing your teeth at least twice a day, using an oxygenating specialty breath freshening product to moisten your mouth and kill bacteria. Also, flossing is another key to lowering your risk of pregnancy gingivitis.
Pregnant moms may also consider scheduling at least one dental checkup during their second or third trimester. Prior to this appointment, rinse with all-natural, alcohol-free mouthwashes as a way to keep your gums healthy.
Left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which is an infection of the bone bed in which your teeth are rooted. The APA warns that periodontitis increases the risk of pre-term birth.
That's not all it can do. According to data presented at a conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, periodontal disease can also make it harder to conceive in the first place.
Fortunately, specialty breath fresheners can be a big help. At a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, researchers announced that by regularly using alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwashes, expectant mothers can reduce the likelihood of pre-term birth.