Pregnancy gingivitis is experienced by 65 to 70% of pregnant women, but then gingivitis is a common condition among the population in general.
Gingivitis, also called periodontal disease, it's caused by a bacterial film that grows on the teeth, resulting in plaque buildup. This plaque irritates the gums, making them tender, bright red, swollen, sensitive, and easy to bleed.
If you floss, brush and get regular dental care, it's possible to keep the problem under control, but if you don't, it can lead to more serious problems.
The advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontisis,
in which the bone supporting the teeth begins to erode as a result of
the infection, and in the long run it can lead to tooth loss.
The bacteria causing the problem are present in the mouth all the time and are kept in check with flossing and brushing, but when you avoid regular dental care, the sugars and starches in your food mix with the bacteria and form the plaque on your teeth.
After a couple of days, the plaque hardens into tartar, the bacteria set up permanent residence and the gums start getting irritated.
During pregnancy gingivitis is more common. Increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the gums to swell and become somewhat softer than normal and circulation of blood to them increases, making them more prone to bleeding and infection.
The hormonal changes during pregnancy change the body’s natural response to dental plaque exaggerating the way the gum tissues react to the bacteria in plaque, thus resulting in a higher chance of pregnant women getting gingivitis.
The risk of getting gingivitis increases beginning with the second month of pregnancy and decreases with the ninth month.
Since the bacteria that cause gingivitis can enter the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel all the way down to the uterus.
This triggers the body to produce prostaglandins, which are natural fatty acids that normally control inflammation and smooth muscle contraction.
When a woman is pregnant, her level of prostaglandins increases and peaks when she goes into labor. One theory is, if extra prostaglandins are produced when the body is reacting to infected gums, a pregnant women’s body may think it's a signal to go into labor sooner than expected, thus causing a baby to be born too early or too small.
Poor nutrition is another possible cause of gingivitis, which means that on top of causing health problems for yourself and your baby, you can create more plaque that irritates your gums.
Citrus fruits and other fruits high in vitamin C
Oranges - 84 mg in a cup
Kiwi - 70 mg
Grapefruits - 45 mg in one half
Cantaloupe - 25 mg in one-eighth
Black currants - 180 mg in 100 grams
Guava - 125 mg in one fruit
Cranberries - Cranberry juice is widely known to prevent urinary tract infections, but a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that cranberry juice can also reverse and inhibit the growth of dental plaque bacteria - and taking out the bacteria should lessen the risk of pregnancy gingivitis. But try to get cranberry juice without sugar, otherwise it defeats the object.
Red and green peppers, Brussels sprouts and broccoli - These vegetables also contain a decent amount of vitamin C. One medium red pepper contains 152 mg, while a green pepper has 95 mg. One cup of broccoli features 81 mg, while a cup of Brussels sprouts has 75 mg.
Sardines and salmon - A study in Journal of Periodontology showed that those with a lower calcium intake had a higher risk of gingivitis: a 54% higher risk for women who took only 2 to 499 mg of calcium and a 27% risk for women who had a moderate calcium intake levels of 500 to 700 mg.
When you think of calcium, don't always assume you have to increase your intake of dairy foods, but canned sardines and salmon have good amounts of calcium - 325 mg in 3oz/100 g. of Atlantic sardines in oil and 181 mg in the same amount of canned pink salmon.
Please note that fresh salmon has much less calcium,
roughly 10 mg for the same amount serving. Why? When salmon is canned,
the calcium-rich bones are canned as well, and these bone soften during
the canning process, which makes them digestible.
Soy and tofu - Many calcium-enriched soy beverages are available and they typically include about 300 mg of calcium per cup. Even more amazing, raw firm tofu prepared with calcium sulfate contains 861 mg of calcium in just a half cup. Hard tofu prepared with nigari contains 345 mg of calcium in 100-gram serving.
Yogurt, milk and cheese - An 8oz/100 g. container of non-fat plain yogurt contains almost half the recommended daily amount of calcium, a total of 452 mg. A 1.5oz/45 g. of Romano cheese contains the same amount of calcium and 2oz/60 g. of pasteurized processed Swiss cheese has 438 mg.
Pregnancy gingivitis is just one of the problems that might arise during pregnancy. Have a look at others in the pages below:
A website on pregnancy that I find extremely useful is Pregnancy Friend by Jo Walker. It's packed full of advice and information, do have a look at it!
What to Eat When Problems Arise: