You are expecting! Congratulations! The beauty of motherhood is about to embrace you for the rest of your life. But all is not hunky-dory with your body. For the next nine months, your body is going to undergo inexplicable changes, thanks to the hormones! But have you ever heard that your mouth is also affected during pregnancy? Expecting families have a lot on their minds, but that doesn’t mean they can neglect their teeth and gums.
While you wait for your little one to arrive, it’s important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby.
HOW WILL PREGNANCY EFFECT YOUR MOUTH?
- Gum disease – during pregnancy, teeth and gums need special attention. Regular tooth brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy.
- Enamel erosion – for some women, morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy. Along with the nausea comes additional acid that, if left in your mouth, can erode your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control.
- Increased risk of tooth decay – pregnancy dry mouth can put women at a greater risk for problems such as tooth decay and infections. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva.
- Pregnancy Tumors- In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth. They may be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them.
IS IT SAFE TO VISIT YOUR DENTIST WHEN YOU ARE PREGNANT?
Yes, it is! The dentist can be a great help in keeping your mouth (and your baby) healthy during pregnancy. Be sure to let your dentist know that you’re pregnant as soon as you know. He or she may need to adjust the treatments or medications given to you, such as postponing certain procedures until after your baby is born to avoid taking any risks. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the second trimester is often the ideal time to have minor dental work performed, such as having a cavity filled, or a professional cleaning, if needed.
- Tell your dentist (and doctor) if you are pregnant. Routine dental care can be done any time during pregnancy. Any urgent procedure can be done, as well. All elective dental procedures, however, should be postponed until after the delivery. Before you have your dental appointment, check with your obstetrician to see if she has any special precautions/instructions for you.
- Tell your dentist the names and dosages of all drugs you are taking – including medications and prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor – as well as any specific medical advice your doctor has given you. Your dentist may need to alter your dental treatment plan based on this information.
- Dental X-rays can be done during pregnancy. Your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your baby, such as shielding your abdomen and thyroid. Advances in technology have made X-rays much safer today than in past decades.
- Don’t skip your dental check-up appointment simply because you are pregnant. Now more than any other time, regular periodontal (gum) exams are very important, because pregnancy causes hormonal changes that put you at increased risk for periodontal disease and for tender gums that bleed easily – a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Pay particular attention to any changes in your gums during pregnancy. If tenderness, bleeding or gum swelling occurs at any time during your pregnancy, talk with your dentist or periodontist as soon as possible.
- Follow good oral hygiene practices to prevent and/or reduce oral health problems.
EATING RIGHT FOR YOUR TEETH AND BABY
- Avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy. However, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese, and yogurt are a good source of these essential minerals and are good for baby’s developing teeth, gums, and bones.
Have a happy pregnancy with healthy white teeth and gums! And don’t forget to visit your dentist!