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dental-carePregnancy is a difficult time for the immune system. It now has to work overtime securing the mothers body as well as the foetus growing inside of her. The foetus has no immune system or cardiovascular system or blood supply of its own until the very end of pregnancy, and as such, opportunistic infections can arise much easier than before. One of the most frequent places where such opportunistic infections can arise is in the mouth.

The oral environment

Your mouth is a habitat for thousands of different strains of bacteria. Because of your immune system, your body can regulate with ease the amount and types of bacteria that are present in your mouth at any given time. But if this regulatory system is not working properly, any strain can take over the show and become a problem by colonizing too much of your mouth. This is when periodontitis can become a real problem.

Recurring problems

Typical problems because of a weakened immune system are periodontitis, or infection of the soft tissues around the teeth (which can cause the much talked about bleeding gums during pregnancy, a medical condition that has many old wives tales around it), and it can cause much more frequent cavitation. This is because bacteria that are usually handled by the immune system and that do not cause a problem can now proliferate without any problems, and wreak havoc on the oral environment. Women who are expecting frequently report swollen gums during pregnancy, or recessed gums. These two are caused by the same thing; the immune system is not doing a good job at breaking down the bacteria in the mouth, or of regulating them, and thus when the bacteria live in the gums, they swell to try and fight them. Gum recession is caused by bacteria at the tooth roots, and the soft tissues shrinking away from the teeth in order to protect themselves.

What to do

At home dental care is essential, and you should go and see a dentist at least 3 times during your pregnancy. The best thing to do is get a hygiene session, as this will increase your immune system’s performance by physically removing troublesome bacteria from the mouth. You should stay away from whitening sessions while pregnant, and only take absolutely necessary interventions, as surgery, antibiotics and the stress of getting teeth pulled can have a negative effect on the pregnancy. Always let your dentist know that you are expecting, and always ask their opinion about whether you should get something before or after pregnancy.

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