Oral health is the health of your oral tissues and teeth. Your oral health is intimately connected to your overall health. And if you are pregnant, maintaining good dental health is vital for your health and the babies.
There is an increased risk for oral health issues during pregnancy, and these problems can harm your pregnancy. Research has shown a definite link between severe gum disease and premature birth (before 37 weeks) and low birth weight.
The pregnancy complications of preterm birth and low birth weight can lead to health problems for the baby so it is essential to keep gum disease at bay.
Pregnant women undergo changes that can affect your smile and gum tissues. This can include:
- Pregnant women will have increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These elevated pregnancy hormones can increase your risk for specific oral health problems.
- Your eating habits may change. The kind of food you choose to eat will affect your dental health.
- Dental hygiene may suffer. For some pregnant women, brushing and flossing may cause the feeling of nausea.
These changes can increase your risk for some dental issues during pregnancy, including:
If your dental hygiene suffers from being nauseous and tired, you will increase the risk of tooth decay.
Gingivitis is the earliest form of periodontal disease and includes inflammation (redness and swelling) and gums bleeding. If untreated, it can lead to more advanced periodontal disease.
Elevated levels of pregnancy hormones can increase your risk for pregnancy gingivitis. Approximately 70 percent of all pregnant women have gingivitis.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis gum disease include:
- Redness and Inflammation
- Gum Tenderness
- Bleeding Gums Upon Eating Or Brushing
- Gum Tissue Has Shiny Appearance
Elevated progesterone and estrogen levels during pregnancy can temporarily loosen the gingival tissues and bones that support your smile. This loosening can affect your teeth.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it will lead to a more advanced form of periodontal disease (periodontitis). This advancement of the disease causes severe gums infection and issues with the bones that support the teeth.
Your teeth may get loose, and you may lose teeth at this stage. Periodontitis can lead to bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream). This bacteremia is a serious medical condition that will need immediate medical treatment.
Pregnancy Tumors (also called pyogenic granuloma)
These tumors are not cancerous. They are lumps that form on the gum tissues, usually in between your teeth. Pregnancy tumors look red and raw, and they will easily bleed. Pregnancy tumors can be caused by the presence of plaque on your teeth. These tumors typically go away on their own following birth.
If you are experiencing vomiting from morning sickness, your teeth may be exposed to too much stomach acid. This acid can harm the enamel of your teeth. Morning sickness consists of nausea and vomiting that happens during pregnancy, typically in the first few months.
Signs And Symptoms Of Pregnancy Dental Issues
- Bad breath (Halitosis)
- Teeth That Are Becoming Loose
- Formation Of Lumps On Gum Tissues
- New Gaps Between Your Teeth
- Gum Recession or Pus Draining Along Your Gum Line
- Gums that are red, swollen
- Gums That Bleed Easily
- Toothache Or Other Oral Discomfort
Stay in touch with your dentist throughout your pregnancy. If you are experiencing abnormal pain or notice something is not right, give them a call for dental care. This will keep you and your baby safe.
Dental Issue Prevention While Pregnant
Maintain routine dental care before and during pregnancy. At your routine visits, tell your dentist:
- If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant
- Tell Your Dentist About Medications You May Be Taking. This should include both prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as any supplements.
- If your pregnancy is considered high-risk by your physician.
Dental care before, during, and after pregnancy is essential so your dentist can find and treat dental problems in the earliest stages.
Yes. X-rays are a routine part of standard dental care. Dental X-rays can discover problems with your teeth, gums, and bones.
Dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy for you as well as your baby’s health. They use minimal amounts of radiation, and your dentist covers you with a special apron and collar to protect you and your baby. This minimal radiation is even lower when a dentist uses digital radiographs during dental care.
If you are experiencing a dental issue, let your dentist know that you are pregnant. Modifications to treat will be made, and they can also evaluate if this treatment can wait until after the baby is born.
The following treatments are safe for mother and baby during pregnancy:
- Medicine (including pain relievers and antibiotics) to treat infections. Your dentist can give you medication that is safe for you and your baby during pregnancy.
- Local anesthesia. The dental anesthetic is safe to use during pregnancy.
- You can have dental treatment any time during pregnancy. However, unless absolutely necessary, delay until the second trimester.
How to Care for Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
- Visit your dentist regularly: It is essential to inform your dentist once you discover that you are pregnant. Once they are aware, they can advise you on how to best care for your dental health.
- Brush your teeth: To avoid development of gum disease. Floss at least once and brush twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
- Take care of your nutrition: Healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole-grain bread and pasta, and low-fat dairy products. Limit sweets and sugary foods intake and drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks. Eating a well-balanced diet helps give you and your developing baby important nutrients. Your baby’s teeth will begin their development between the 3rd and 6th months of pregnancy. Nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C and D, help your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
- If you are unable to brush your teeth due to morning sickness, use antacids or rinse your mouth with a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of water. Rinsing can help reduce the amount of acid in your mouth. Antacids are medicines that help neutralize stomach acid.
Your baby’s teeth start developing as early as three months into your pregnancy. By practicing good oral hygiene habits throughout your pregnancy, you can protect the dental health of both you and your child.