Pregnancy is a time of drastic change and anticipation. With so many changes in your body, it is essential to keep your overall health in check. This includes your oral health. Poor dental health can affect you and the child you are carrying. Many parents are unsure of how to proceed with oral health care during this exciting time. Below you will find many common questions and the answers to help you make your best decisions for optimum oral health.
Common Pregnancy Dental Questions
How does oral health affect pregnancy?
Oral health is the health of your mouth, teeth, and gum tissues. It is an essential part of your overall health. And if you are a pregnant women, it is also a necessary part of your prenatal care.
Being pregnant can increase your risk for oral health issues. These issues can affect your pregnancy and its outcome. For example, some research shows a link between periodontal disease and premature birth rates. Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have developed more health problems at birth and later in life than babies that are born full-term.
Gum Disease and Premature Birth
Premature Birth and Gum Disease
There have been few significant research studies showing a link between gum disease and possible premature birth. Researchers of one study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association found that pregnant women with chronic periodontal disease were 4-7x more likely to deliver prematurely (before week 37) and underweight babies than mothers free of gum disease.
The studies also noted that mothers with the most severe periodontal disease delivered the most prematurely at 32 weeks.
Taking extra good care of maternal oral health during pregnancy can help you have a healthy pregnancy along with a healthy baby according to the American Dental Association.
How can pregnancy affect your oral health care?
As your body changes during pregnancy, your dental health will be affected. This will include:
- During pregnancy, you will have increased levels of specific hormones. These include progesterone and estrogen. These hormone elevations can increase your risk for specific oral health problems.
- Eating habits may change. You may eat more of certain foods during pregnancy than you did before you were pregnant. The kinds and amounts of food you eat can affect your oral health.
- During pregnancy, many women may neglect their own dental health. This may be due to your gums being tender, or you are more tired than usual. Brushing and flossing may cause nausea in some women.
These alterations to your oral health care can increase your risk for some dental issues during pregnancy. This can include:
Tooth decay. Being pregnant makes you more likely to have tooth decay. You can pass the specific bacteria that cause tooth decay to your baby during pregnancy and after birth. This can cause dental issues for your baby’s teeth as they develop.
Gingivitis. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissues. If left untreated, it will progress to a more severe form of gum disease (periodontitis). Increases in pregnancy hormones can also increase your risk for gingivitis development. Right around 70 percent of pregnant women have gingivitis. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis for pregnant women include:
- Gum tissue redness and swelling
- Tenderness in the gums
- Bleeding gums
- Shiny gums
Loose teeth. High levels of the progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can temporarily loosen the ligaments, gingival tissues, and bones that keep your teeth in place. This can loosen your teeth.
Periodontal disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis. This causes severe infection in the gums and potential loss of the bones that give our teeth support. Your teeth may loosen, and they may even have to be extracted if they become loose enough. Periodontitis can lead to oral bacteria in the bloodstream. This is a serious condition that should receive immediate dental treatment.
Pregnancy tumors (pyogenic granuloma). These pregnancy tumors are not cancerous. They are lumps that form on the gum tissues, usually between your teeth. Pregnancy tumors appear red and raw, and they can easily bleed. These tumors can be caused by having too much plaque. These tumors usually disappear on their own following birth. In rare instances, these tumors may need to be removed.
Tooth enamel erosion. If you experience vomiting due to morning sickness, your teeth may be exposed to stomach acid. This stomach acid can harm the enamel of your teeth. Morning sickness includes nausea and vomiting, usually in the first few months.
What are the signs and symptoms of oral health problems when pregnant?
If you experience any signs or symptoms of dental problems, call your dentist.
Signs and symptoms of dental issues include:
- Halitosis (Bad breath)
- Teeth becoming loose
- Mouth sores or lumps on the gum tissues
- New gaps between your teeth
- Receding gums or presence of pus along your gum line
- Gums that are red, swollen, tender, or even shiny; gingival tissues that easily bleed
- Toothache or other oral pain
If you have pain or swelling, call your dentist right away. If you have a dental infection, you need immediate dental treatment to help prevent problems for you and your baby.
Is Dental Care Safe During Pregnancy?
YES!! There are some limitations, but the main thing is communicating with your dentist that you are pregnant. This allows the dental team to take all precautions for your health and your baby’s health. If you are planning to get pregnant, you should visit your dentist for a complete checkup to ensure there are no issues and, if there are, have them taken care of.
Dental cleanings should be done throughout any trimester of your pregnancy. This can help prevent pregnancy gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontal Disease in pregnancy has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight. The safest time to receive dental treatment for dental problems during pregnancy is during the second trimester. Cosmetic dental work and other elective dental procedures should not be done during pregnancy.
Are Dental X Rays Safe During Pregnancy?
It is best to postpone all radiographs until after the birth of your child. That being said, the American College Of Radiology says that “no single diagnostic dental x ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause any adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus. You should not avoid treatment of decay, fracture, infection, or pain. You can put your baby in harm’s way if you do not treat a dental infection, do not eat properly due to pain, or do not sleep well. Treatment of such issues should be completed during the second trimester of the pregnancy, if possible.
What To Do For A Dental Emergency during Pregnancy?
If you are experiencing a dental emergency while pregnant, you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Never ignore dental pain, especially during your pregnancy. The pain will cause increased stress on your baby as well as yourself. It is also important to not allow any infection to spread. This can cause fever, spread bacteria to your child, and cause fetal distress.
If dental treatment is necessary, a local anesthetic can be used in monitored amounts but will still be enough to make you comfortable. When you are comfortable, the amount of stress on you and the baby is reduced. Also, the more comfortable you are, the easier it is for the anesthesia to work. If antibiotics are necessary to fight dental infection, the choices include penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin. These have been classified to be safe for you and your baby while taking care of the infection.
What If Toothpaste Sickens Your Stomach?
Pregnancy sickness is an individualized event. For many, it could be the smell of mayonnaise, while it could be toothpaste for others. If this occurs, try a few different flavors and brands to find the one that does not trigger your nauseousness. It is important to continue brushing your teeth and maintaining dental hygiene while pregnant. Not only will it hold back any tooth decay, but it will also help control pregnancy gingivitis.
How to prevent dental issues?
Below you will find tips to keep your teeth and gum tissues healthy:
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and floss once per day. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Routine brushing and flossing can help remove plaque and help keep your teeth and gum tissues healthy.
- If you have trouble brushing your teeth due to vomiting, use antacids or rinse your mouth often with a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of water. Regular rinsing can help to reduce the level of acid in your mouth. Antacids are medications that help neutralize stomach acid. But do not take any medications without talking to your doctor to make sure it is safe for you and the baby.
- See your dentist for a routine dental checkup every six months, even during pregnancy. At your dental visit, make sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant.
- Eat healthy foods and limit sugary foods. Healthy foods can include fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole-grain bread and pasta, and low-fat dairy products. Limit sugary foods and drink water instead of sugary drinks. Eating healthy foods will help give you and your baby the important nutrients you need. Your baby’s teeth will start developing between 3 and 6 months of pregnancy. Nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C and D, help your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
- Do not smoke.
After I Give Birth, Will Dental Work Affect Nursing?
Studies have shown that about 1% of any medication you take is excreted in a woman’s breast milk. This is a small amount, but You should discuss this with your dentist or physician to ensure your baby’s safety.
Can I Whiten My Teeth During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy Dental Questions Conclusion
It is important to remember to keep asking questions during your pregnancy. There are so many new things happening to a pregnant woman’s body. Being informed can help make everything go smoothly. You need to know the difference between the facts and the myths in case a dental emergency arises. The most important thing for you is to maintain your child’s health and make informed decisions while dealing with any dental issue.