How Can Pregnancy Affect My Oral Health?
Posted by Dr. Maria DeRose Barnes on Mar 21 2021, 08:22 AM
Are you an expecting mother wondering how all of these new bodily changes can affect your teeth and mouth? You're not alone! Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it does come with hormonal changes that can impact your oral health.
One common pregnancy related dental issue is commonly known as pregnancy gingivitis. This condition is caused by hormonal changes and appears as red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushing. Good oral hygiene can help prevent this condition:
-brush twice a day for 2 minutes with toothpaste containing fluoride
-floss once a day to remove plaque between the teeth that your toothbrush can't reach
-see your dentist for your regular cleaning appointments to remove deposits that may be under the gums and can't be removed with brushing or flossing on your own
If gingivitis is left untreated, it could progress to periodontitis which is a more serious condition that can lead to bone loss around teeth.
Another gum problem that can occur are areas of gum overgrowth commonly called "pregnancy tumors," or scientifically known as pyogenic granulomas. These overgrowths of gum tissue are benign and often go away after pregnancy on their own. If they are causing discomfort, or do not resolve on their own, talk to your dentist about having them gently removed.
Experiencing nausea and vomiting during your pregnancy? Many women deal with these unpleasant symptoms over the nine months of nurturing their growing babe. If vomiting and/or acid reflux have become your new norm, your teeth may be regularly exposed to the harmful stomach acids that are coming up through the esophagus and into your mouth. Constant and regular exposure to this acid can wear down the hard outer surface of the teeth (the enamel) and make them more at risk for decay and sensitivity. To help prevent tooth erosion there are a few things you can do:
-do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting; instead rinse your mouth with a diluted solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 cup of water to help neutralize the acid
-if needed, consider over the counter, or prescription, medications that are approved by your OB/GYN for nausea and acid reflux
DENTAL CARE DURING PREGNANCY
One of the most important things to remember is that routine dental care is considered safe during all stages of pregnancy. Many medications, including some antibiotics and local anesthetics, are also considered safe- your dentist will know which ones to use and which to avoid. Many women find that they are, physically, the most comfortable having dental work done during the second trimester when nausea symptoms seem to be at their lowest point and your growing belly hasn't made sitting for longer periods uncomfortable. With the winning combination of good oral hygiene at home and regular dental cleanings and check-ups you can feel confident in keeping your gums and pearly whites healthy during your pregnancy.