Gum Disease, Pregnancy, and Stroke - What's the Connection?

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • I was brushing my teeth the other day and I spit out a bunch of blood.  It really surprised me because I’ve never had a problem with my gums bleeding before.  But swollen, sore and bleeding gums are common during pregnancy.  This inflammation is called gingivitis.  Pregnancy gingivitis is caused by the hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue.  It’s seems every part of my body is changing because of pregnancy.  It’s amazing how raging hormones cause everything from nausea to bleeding gums.


    The hormonal changes can also hinder the body’s response to the bacteria which causes periodontal infections.  This makes it easier for plague to build up on your teeth.  Now that I’m about to enter into my second trimester, my dental care becomes more crucial.  My dentist told the severity of pregnancy gingivitis usually increases in the second trimester.

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    The main thing to do during pregnancy is to keep all dental appointments, brush you teeth twice a day, especially after vomiting.  It’s good to floss your teeth once a day too.  I’ll admit I’ve never been good at the flossing, maybe once a week.  So, I’ll have to make a effort to step that up.  Also, changing to a soft toothbrush may cause less irritation to your gums.  The good news is that after you deliver your baby, your gums should return to normal.

    If you do develop gingivitis and it’s left unchecked, it could lead to a more serious gum disease called periodontitis.  Periodontitis during pregnancy can increase the chance of preterm birth.


    With my stroke history, gum disease is particularly a concern to me.  Researchers found that periodontitis is an important risk factor for stroke, specifically non-haemorrhagic stroke.  Gum disease has already been identified as a possible risk factor for coronary heart disease.  Gingivitis and periodontitis are two of the most common types of gum disease.

Published On: April 23, 2007