Why is Dental care important during pregnancy?
There’s always a lot to do when preparing to have a baby. There are many important tasks including trips to the doctor, and even your dentist too! Hormonal and dietary changes throughout pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of the development of several dental issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay. Your dental health is important not only for your overall health, but also for the health of your baby. If you are pregnant or believe you may be, it is important to inform your dentist. Be sure to also indicate if you are taking any medications or have any medical conditions.
How does pregnancy affect dental health?
Pregnancy can impact your dental health by worsening existing dental issues or even creating new ones.
During pregnancy, there is an increased risk of developing the following oral conditions:
- Gingivitis: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 60 to 75% of women have gingivitis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may lead to what is commonly referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. Your body may be less able to combat oral bacteria resulting in inflamed and bleeding gums. If untreated, this condition can progress into a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontal disease. A greater frequency of dental cleanings may be recommended by your dental professionals during your pregnancy.
- Periodontal Disease: Some research has suggested a potential link between periodontal disease, a more progressive and severe form of gum disease, and preterm birth, low birthweight babies, and the development of pre-eclampsia, according to the CDC. Periodontal disease is characterized by gum inflammation, bone loss, and can even result in tooth loss. Your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) to help prevent gum disease from advancing and causing harm to you and your baby.
- Tooth Decay: Changes in diet including frequent snacking and increased carbohydrates, exposure to stomach acids following nausea and vomiting, as well as poor oral hygiene during pregnancy can lead to a higher chance of developing tooth decay. If care isn’t taken to reduce cavity-causing oral bacteria, after pregnancy these harmful bacteria can be transmitted to your baby from mouth-to-mouth contact, according to the CDC.
- Pregnancy Tumor (Pyogenic Granuloma): Some women may temporarily experience excess oral tissue growth often on the gums, also referred to as a pyogenic granuloma or pregnancy tumor. This may occur as a result of hormonal changes or excess dental plaque. They tend to bleed easily and resemble the shape of a raspberry.
- Dental Erosion: Many individuals during pregnancy experience morning sickness, which can lead to vomiting. Not only is this an uncomfortable experience, but it also exposes your teeth to harmful acids that break down your tooth enamel.
How to prevent dental issues during pregnancy?
Practicing good oral hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent dental issues during pregnancy. Brushing twice a day using a soft-bristled brush for two minutes and flossing daily is very important for keeping a healthy mouth. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste and ask your dentist about professional fluoride treatment, which can help lower the risk of tooth decay and minimize the effects of dental erosion from nausea. You may experience trouble tooth brushing due to a gag reflex. If this is the case, try brushing slowly, using a toothbrush with a smaller head, or brushing your teeth during different times of the day. Even changing the flavor of your toothpaste may help.
Eating well balanced and nutritious meals is also important throughout pregnancy, as this can even influence your baby’s teeth during their development while in utero. Implement tooth-friendly foods with vitamins A, C, and D, protein, folic acid, calcium and phosphorus into your diet. Plus, stay hydrated with fluoridated water to help strengthen your dental enamel.
If you are experiencing morning sickness, you’re not alone. It is recommended to avoid toothbrushing for at least 30 minutes after vomiting to avoid spreading the damaging acids throughout your teeth. Immediately you may instead rinse with a diluted solution of water and baking soda to help neutralize the acids.
How dental issues are treated during pregnancy?
Dental issues can be safely and effectively treated normally during pregnancy. Fillings, root canals, and tooth extraction for instance can be performed during pregnancy and should not be put-off unless specifically recommended by your dentist. Dental anesthesia is also safe to use during pregnancy.
Is it safe to take an X-ray?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), X-rays are considered safe at any time during pregnancy. Thyroid collars and abdominal aprons will be used as protection while the X-rays are being taken.
When to visit the dentist during pregnancy?
Dental care is safe throughout pregnancy and should be a top priority. It is essential not to put off seeking treatment, as this can lead to many complications. Make sure you are scheduled with your dentist for your regular check-up and cleaning, being sure to inform them of your pregnancy. Your dental professionals will help counsel you regarding your oral care throughout your pregnancy.
Our doctors and dental specialists provide a wide range of dental services at our 40+ multi-specialty dental offices across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our dental team is compassionate, and our main goal is to provide you a comfortable, caring dental experience. Book an appointment at your local Gentle Dental today.