It’s an exciting time as you await the arrival of your baby! As your doctor works with you to maintain your overall health, it’s also critical not to overlook your dental health during pregnancy. Expectant mothers are susceptible to oral conditions that can be harmful to both mother and baby if left unchecked.
There are many myths surrounding the safety of dental care during pregnancy, so some women shy away from properly taking care of their teeth. The result is often tooth decay and gingival problems for these women.
But there are even more severe problems that can come as a result of decaying teeth and gum disease coupled with changing hormone levels: pregnancy granuloma, gingival tissue ulcerations, gingivitis, loose teeth,pregnancy tumors (epulis gravidarum), mouth dryness, dental erosions, pre-eclampsia, low birth weight baby, and premature delivery.
This article will discuss how pregnancy affects dental health and the changes that occur, how to recognize potential dental problems, and how to manage them with good oral hygiene during pregnancy.
Oral Health Changes During Pregnancy
The hormonal fluctuations experienced by expectant mothers result in many changes during pregnancy. The placenta produces more estrogen and progesterone which then affects the body’s tissues. The gums become extremely sensitive and often result in enlargements or tumors of the gums.
One result of this change in hormones is the tendency for pregnant women to bleed more readily. This may, in turn, cause them to avoid brushing and flossing. Bacterial plaque then builds up and the mother’s overall oral health suffers.
Any presence of pregnancy gingivitis usually begins around the second month and continues until the birth of the child and then often heals on its own. Studies show that about 40% of pregnant women suffer from this gum disorder.
Keep in mind though that gum diseases can cause many systemic diseases when left untreated, like diabetes and heart disease, as well as gestational complications.
Another common occurrence during pregnancy is an interest in certain foods, especially those with high carbohydrate concentrations. Some women develop a condition called pica. This causes them to eat things that can be harmful to their oral health, including large amounts of ice or even non-edible things. This, coupled with the higher tendency for the gums to bleed, some women begin to avoid brushing their teeth after eating.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dental Problems During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, here are some of the symptoms of dental problems to look out for:
- Loose teeth
- Sores in the mouth
- Lumps on the gums
- Bad breath
- Spaces between the teeth
- Red, swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Pus along the gum line
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth or gum pain
Any of these symptoms can indicate infection, which is dangerous to you and your baby. Seek treatment from your dentist immediately. Of course, a better course of action is to prevent these dental problems before you exhibit these symptoms.
Tips for Good Oral Hygiene During Pregnancy
Here are some tips to build a solid oral hygiene routine during pregnancy:
Eat a Nutritious Diet
The eating habits of the mother are key. A nutritious balanced diet that includes the necessary vitamins and minerals is critical. For example, the mother should take 1200 – 1500 mg of calcium every day to protect her bones and those of the baby. This can be achieved by eating calcium-rich foods like milk and other dairy products as well as green, leafy veggies. This will balance the necessary nutrients and energy requirements for the proper growth of the fetus.
Maintain Contact and Routine Appointments With Your Dentist
Don’t stop seeing your dentist during your pregnancy! In fact, many dentists advise increasing your exams and dental cleanings during this time. Check with your dentist for their advice.
At your checkups, tell your dentist about any of the following:
- Medications you are taking.
- The status of your pregnancy, i.e., high-risk, etc.
- Number of amalgam fillings you have. (If you are new to that particular dentist.) (This indicates the presence of mercury in your body, which can be harmful to you and the baby.)
- Any symptoms you are experiencing that indicate dental problems.
Maintain A Solid Oral Hygiene Routine at Home
There are several distractions to maintaining your daily oral health routine, as we have seen in this article. It may take more discipline and determination to do so, but keep your unborn child in mind every day. Whatever you do affects your child’s life.
Make sure you continue to brush twice daily for at least two minutes each time and floss each day as well.
Every nutrition program recommends drinking water as a large part of the plan. During pregnancy, this is even more important.
If you have morning sickness, make sure to rinse your mouth with water and drink additional water during the day to prevent dehydration. Then, brush your teeth to rid your mouth of all the acid.
Consider Taking A Calcium Supplement
Discuss the addition of supplements to your diet with your doctor, specifically calcium due to its importance in bone and tooth development.
It is important to keep yourself informed during your pregnancy about your general AND oral health. View your obstetrician and your dentist as part of a team to advise you about your health and your baby’s health.
No question is insignificant and you may need to ask questions more than once. Feel free to do so with no hesitation.
Your Oral Health Is Our First Concern
Your dental health and the impact that has on the health of your baby are our first concerns. We know that it can be a difficult balancing act for expectant mothers. A mother’s body undergoes several important changes, all of which can affect the baby, too. It is our goal to provide you with all the facts and information we can to ensure the health of both of you before and after the birth.
Here at TLC Dental Center, we consider it an honor to work with you during your pregnancy to ensure you maintain your oral health, for both of you. We stand ready to be part of your good health team.Contact us today to set an appointment to discuss your dental needs before, during, and after the birth of your baby.