Pregnancy is an extremely exciting time. However, this period can be filled with uncertainty and anxiety. If you’re an expectant mom, hormonal imbalance can cause significant changes in your body, including your mouth.
The spike in hormone levels can leave your mouth prone to bacteria and plaque. Proper oral hygiene is even more important during pregnancy. Neglecting your dental health during this time can result in serious oral health problems, putting both you and your baby at risk.
Common Dental Health Problems During Pregnancy
Regular dental visits are more important than ever when you have a child developing in your womb. Here are some dental concerns to watch out for:
- Gum problems
Some pregnant women become susceptible to various gum diseases due to pregnancy hormones.
- Gingivitis: Women in their first or second trimester can be at risk of pregnancy-related gingivitis. Symptoms usually include red, swollen, bleeding, and tender gums. Untreated gingivitis can result in periodontal disease.
- Periodontal Disease: Bacteria in the mouth attacks the gums, ligaments, and bones that support the tooth. Without proper treatment, serious periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.
- Pregnancy Epulis or Pyogenic Granuloma: Oral pyogenic granulomas are oral lesions that can develop in the gums due to several factors, including certain hormones, chronic gum inflammation, trauma due to brushing, and injury to the primary tooth.
In most cases, pregnancy-related gum problems can resolve after birth. However, some gum diseases can be exacerbated and require extensive treatment after pregnancy.
- Enamel Erosion due to Vomiting
Some pregnancy hormones can cause the stomach muscles to soften, which leads to gastric reflux or vomiting. Strong gastric acids can erode the teeth, causing damage to the enamel and tooth decay.
- Unusual Food Cravings
Pregnant women have cravings for various foods. Craving for sweet snacks can increase the risk of tooth decay during pregnancy. While cravings are hard to resist, try to choose healthier options instead, like fresh fruits. Make sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with a mouthwash.
Taking Care of Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
Everyone, especially pregnant women, must undergo regular dental checkups and teeth cleaning every 6 months. Various studies have discovered that pregnant women with chronic gum infections and diseases are at risk of premature birth. The possibility of a brain injury and/or vision and hearing problems is also high in prematurely born babies. Fortunately, prompt treatment for gum diseases can prevent these problems. Additionally, the dentist will always provide dental guidelines for pregnant patients to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Here is a helpful dental care plan to keep in mind to protect your developing baby:
- Brush Regularly
Morning sickness can make brushing your teeth regularly a herculean task. However, dental health professionals strongly advise brushing your teeth 30 minutes after your morning sickness. If you experience gagging or taste sensitivity, using a children’s toothbrush and toothpaste can help.
- Swish Baking Soda
Morning sickness is a common problem during the first trimester of pregnancy. In some instances, it can continue until the second trimester. Drastic hormonal changes can trigger frequent vomit, bringing stomach acid into your mouth and weakening the enamel. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with warm water and use it to rinse your mouth to neutralize the acid. It does not only protect your teeth but also eliminates the sour taste in your mouth.
- Limit Sugar Intake
Sugar can stick to the surface of your teeth after eating sweet snacks or food high in carbs. It causes bacteria to feed on sugar and secrete acid, which wreaks havoc on your teeth. On the other hand, pregnant women should not eliminate carb consumption. Instead, eat a daily recommended dose of healthier options, such as fruits, whole grains, and other good carbohydrates.
There are areas in your teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach and clean thoroughly, allowing the buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria. However, flossing can effectively clean hard-to-reach areas, remove food particles stuck between teeth, and prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Floss once or twice a day.
- Control Plaque
If you experience plaque buildup, your dentist may recommend a safe antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent the problem. Make sure to rinse your mouth once a day to keep plaque at bay.
- Increase Calcium Intake
Increasing your daily intake of calcium during pregnancy helps strengthen not only your bones and teeth but your baby’s, as well. Make sure to incorporate calcium-rich foods into your daily diet, including milk, yogurt, cheese, almonds, and spinach.
- Stop Smoking
When you quit smoking, it does not only help your baby get more oxygen but also contributes to the development of healthy lungs. It also prevents the risk of pregnancy and birth complications.
- Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for the metabolism of calcium and phosphate. A pregnant dental patient needs to get 10 micrograms of Vitamin D every day to support the development of your baby’s bone, teeth, heart, kidneys, and nervous system.
- Do Not Refuse Dental Imaging
Some women may refuse dental x-ray while pregnant. When a dentist recommends dental x-rays to a pregnant woman, there is a good reason for it. The effects of a one-time dental x-ray on pregnant patients are minimal to none. It is a more serious risk to not get the proper diagnosis and treatment of severe dental diseases.
Additionally, to minimize radiation exposure further, the dentist will provide protective gear, such as lead shields, to protect your abdomen and thyroid.
- Regular Dental Visit
Proper dental management of pregnant women is crucial. While many believe that dental visits during pregnancy can harm the baby, that is not the case. The baby is exposed to more serious risks if the mother is suffering from an untreated chronic gum infection or disease. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream, reach other organs including the womb, and impair fetal development. Pay close attention to any changes in your gums, and visit your dentist as soon as possible for treatment.
Regular dental care and dental work on a pregnant patient can be performed anytime during pregnancy. However, make sure to tell about it. The dentist must also be aware of the medications and dosages prescribed by your doctor. The dentist may need to adjust your dental treatment plan or postpone it until after the delivery.
Dr. Urszula Barrios and her team of friendly dental professionals help ensure you get the right dental care for yourself and your baby. If you have any concerns about your oral health during pregnancy, give us a call at (519) 767-6453 to request an appointment with us.