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On Bleeding Gums, Rotting Teeth, Gum Disease And Pregnancy

I did not take good care of my teeth when I was pregnant. And I’m paying the price.

I never had a cavity until I had kids. My teeth have always been healthy and I kept on top of basic dental maintenance. But when I was in the various stages of pregnancy and new motherhood, I let things slide.

I was one of those pregnant women with bleeding gums. I bled when I flossed, brushed, ate, even when I slept. My pillow cases were ruined.

Rather than aggressively (or even vaguely) address the problem, I all but skipped the dentist office. I went once during my first pregnancy, squirted blood and then didn’t go back. My dentist told me the blood squirting was perfectly normal. The membranes are softened and gum or nose bleeds are more common in pregnancy. But still, I somehow never made the time to get back for a follow-up appointment. Then my busy new mother work/life balance left me little time for the frivolity of a deep cleaning. Then I was pregnant again…

When I finally checked in with my dentist I had six cavities and various other annoying things. Treatment has ensued, but I’ve lost some ground.

Part of my penance is to go around the world telling pregnant women that dental care is important. Today I read another study linking gum disease and premature birth. Hormonal changes seem to make pregnant women more susceptible to gum disease and other dental problems. They used to joke that a women would lose a tooth for each child but this does not have to be the case in 2010.

Treatment can be expensive without dental insurance, but shelling out for proper maintenance now can save untold thousands later. Non-emergency dental procedures aren’t recommended in pregnancy. All most women have to do is go to preventative check-ups and cleanings, which are usually recommended every six months but can be more frequent during pregnancy, especially if gingivitis is an issue. And of course brush twice a day, floss once a day, and try to eat a decent well-rounded diet.

photo: Editor B/Flickr

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