If you’re pregnant, one of the things you’re probably most concerned about is taking care of your growing baby. But did you know that you should also be taking care of your teeth and gums? It’s true! Dental problems during pregnancy aren’t rare at all.
Pregnancy causes some unusual changes in your body, so it’s important to know what to watch out for and how to protect your teeth. In this post, we’ll discuss potential dental problems and the most important things you need to know about pregnancy dental care.
Swollen gums? Loose or wiggly teeth? Pregnancy can actually have a significant impact on your dental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 to 75% of pregnant women are likely to develop the early stages of gingivitis. It is also common to experience pregnancy tumors, tooth decay, and other oral health problems.
Why does this happen? There are two main reasons.
Pregnancy can lead to changes in a woman’s oral health. While pregnant, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, making gum tissues more sensitive and prone to inflammation. Hormonal changes can also indirectly affect your teeth.
Gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that can cause them to become red, swollen, and tender. It is usually mild and can be treated with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.
Periodontal Disease. If gingivitis is left untreated for a period of time, it can further progress to periodontitis. It is a more serious condition that is characterized by inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Periodontitis is more painful and can even lead to receding gums and the breakdown of bone tissues.
Loose Teeth. It is common for your teeth to wiggle or become looser than normal during pregnancy. In some cases, women find new spaces between their teeth. This is because of high levels of hormones affecting the gums and bone tissues that keep your teeth in place. However, unless you have severe underlying dental problems, you don’t have to worry about permanent tooth loss.
Pregnancy Tumors. Women are at risk of developing non-cancerous growths or swellings called “tumors” in gum tissues around the mouth. Pregnancy tumors tend to bleed, cause discomfort, and prevent you from eating properly.
One of the most significant changes that takes place during pregnancy is in a woman’s eating habits. As the baby grows, the mother’s body needs more nutrients to support the pregnancy. All these can cause morning sickness, new cravings, and aversions to certain foods.
Dental Cavities. Some women experience pregnancy cravings for sugary or acidic foods, which can contribute to plaque buildup. The increased progesterone levels can also lead to a condition called dry mouth, where saliva production decreases and formation of cavities is more likely.
Tooth Decay. Pregnancy nausea and vomiting can increase the overall risk of tooth erosion. Acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion are all common during pregnancy and can cause stomach acids to wash back up into the mouth. This exposure to stomach acid can wear away tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay.
If left untreated, dental problems related to pregnancy can lead to irreversible issues such as tooth decay or periodontitis. Fortunately, there are steps that expectant mothers like you can take to safeguard their oral health.
Some tips for pregnancy dental care include:
Some women avoid going to the dentist for fear that dental procedures might do more harm than good to the baby. However, dental problems can escalate quickly, and it’s important to treat them early.
Dental procedures can be divided into two categories: those that can be safely performed during pregnancy and those that should be postponed until after childbirth.
Dental x-rays. They help dentists to diagnose problems such as cavities, bone loss, and tumors. While dental x-rays do use radiation, the amount of radiation exposure is very low and is considered safe for both mother and baby.
Dental cleanings. Although routine cleanings can be done anytime during your pregnancy, it is best to have them done during the first two trimesters. Your dentist can determine which procedures are safe to perform depending on how far along you are carrying the baby.
Medications. If you have dental problems that need immediate treatment, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics or painkillers. Most dental treatments are safe for pregnancy, but it’s crucial that your dentist is aware of your condition. To be safe, you can also consult your obstetrician regarding the effect of the medicines.
Elective dental procedures. More invasive procedures and all unnecessary dental worksshould be postponed until after the baby is born.
Dental care during pregnancy should not be overlooked. In fact, maintaining good oral health and hygiene is essential in having a healthy pregnancy. And while dental procedures are generally considered safe, it is still always best to err on the side of caution. Be sure to inform your dentist that you are pregnant and consult your pregnancy doctor, so they can take any necessary precautions.