Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

December 21, 2017

Optimal overall health is essential before and during pregnancy. Proper nutrition, avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco and medical care are all vital, but did you know that good oral health plays a big part in a healthy pregnancy?

Oral Health Pregnancy Risks:

Poor oral health during pregnancy can have serious consequences. Studies show that having gum disease during pregnancy increases the risk of having pre-term births and low birth weight babies. There is also an increased risk of gum disease, dental erosion, and cavities during pregnancy.

Before Pregnancy:

Go for a dental check-up: If you are planning to get pregnant, a dental check-up is a good idea. A check-up and cleaning will make sure your oral health is on the right track. Modify your oral hygiene routine if needed: If you have gum inflammation before becoming pregnant, it is likely to get worse during pregnancy. Treating inflammation and improving your oral hygiene will prevent issues during pregnancy.

Have radiographs (x-rays), and restorative work is done if needed: Although deemed to be safe, most people like to avoid dental x-rays during pregnancy. Having x-rays done before pregnancy as well as having any dental work done will make sure you have a (dental) pain-free pregnancy. Although it is safe to get fillings during pregnancy, some may find laying in a dental chair uncomfortable, especially in the third trimester.

During pregnancy:

Fatigue, morning sickness, and an increased gag reflex may make it more challenging to keep up with proper oral hygiene, but it is especially important to have a clean and healthy mouth during pregnancy. Your dental professional will be able to give you personalized oral hygiene instructions but making sure to brush at least twice and floss at least once a day is a good start.

Common dental issues during pregnancy:

Pregnancy gingivitis: Pregnant women may experience increased swelling and bleeding of their gums. This is due to the hormonal changes and usually starts in the first trimester. With proper oral care, this may be avoided or very mild. It is important to continue with regular dental cleanings during pregnancy, which may need to be more frequent if there is increased gum inflammation.

Pregnancy tumor (pyogenic granuloma): Some pregnant women develop a large growth on their gums that is uncomfortable and bleeds easily. These growths are benign (non-cancerous) and can go away after pregnancy or may need to be removed by a dentist. They often form in response to plaque, so having excellent oral hygiene will help prevent this condition.

Vomiting: This is common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, and can be damaging to a mother’s teeth. Since the stomach acid is coming in contact with the teeth, it is important to minimize its damaging effects. Avoid brushing directly after being sick, since the enamel with be softened. Instead, rinse your mouth out with water or a mix of water and baking soda to neutralize the harmful acids. You should wait at least 30 minutes before brushing after being sick.

After pregnancy:

Nursing: Due to elevated hormones, nursing mothers may also have an increased risk of gum disease. Although challenging with a new baby, keeping a good oral hygiene routine will limit your risk of dental issues. Oral care for baby: Once the baby is born, it is time to start thinking about their oral health. Even before they develop teeth, you can begin to clean their gums after feedings. As soon as their teeth erupt, they are at risk of developing cavities if not cared for properly. Your dental professional will be able to give you more information to keep your child’s teeth healthy.

If you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, optimal oral health is vital. A dental exam is a good start for your oral health and the health of your baby.

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