A common myth is that a growing baby depletes calcium from its mother’s teeth, causing one tooth to be lost per pregnancy. In reality, you will experience dramatic changes in all aspects of your physical health including your dental health, but there is no reason that pregnancy should wreak havoc on your mouth. Knowing what to expect and planning accordingly is the best way to ensure that you retain good oral health throughout your pregnancy.
Common Dental Effects of Pregnancy
The hormonal surges of pregnancy can cause your mouth to become more sensitive to plaque, or the buildup of particles and residue from eating. This sensitivity makes it more likely for pregnant women to develop gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that causes swelling, redness, and bleeding from the gums. Untreated gingivitis can worsen over time, leading to shifting teeth and advanced infection, which has been implicated in premature labor and low birthweight babies. Pregnant women are also at increased risk for tooth decay, as well as “pregnancy tumors”—benign swollen areas along the gum line that are prone to bleeding.
Before You Get Pregnant
If you are planning to become pregnant, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Have a thorough exam and cleaning, and map out a plan for your pregnancy. Talk to both your dentist and your doctor about prenatal vitamins, supplements, and any needed medications. If you have any existing dental problems, get them treated before you become pregnant.
Daily Home Care
Daily Home Care
Most cases of pregnancy gingivitis can be avoided or minimized with scrupulous daily home care. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice per day. Be sure to use only products that are recommended by the American Dental Association. Your dentist might also prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse to help fight plaque. If you experience vomiting associated with morning sickness, baking soda dissolved in water can help protect your teeth from the effects of stomach acid. Of course, it is always best to try to resolve morning sickness. Ask your doctor for recommendations.
Diet also matters, especially during pregnancy. Pregnant women need to be careful to get enough nutrients, especially calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D. Adding plenty of nutrients to your diet will help maintain your own dental health as well as that of your developing baby. Choose snacks that are low in sugar and high in nutrition, and talk to your doctor about an overall pregnancy diet plan.
Seeing the Dentist
Make an appointment for a cleaning during your second trimester, the best time for routine dental work. This appointment will also give the dentist the chance to inspect your mouth and treat any dental issues that might have developed.
If an emergency dental problem arises during any stage of your pregnancy, see the dentist right away. It is always best to treat problems rather than letting them go unresolved. Even emergency X-rays do not cause undue risk to your baby as long as you tell the dentist about your pregnancy so that proper precautions can be taken.
If you need non-emergency dental work, it is usually best to schedule it during your second trimester. Except for emergencies, dental experts generally agree that it is best not to perform dental work during the first trimester or the second half of the third trimester, as these are times of rapid fetal growth and development.
Elective procedures are generally put off until after the baby is born. Although the risks from dental work are extremely small, it simply makes no sense to take even a tiny risk for a procedure that is not essential.
Of course, every woman and every pregnancy is different. It is crucial to see your dentist either before you become pregnant or as soon as you know that you are, in order to get your own individualized treatment plan. Keep your dentist informed of what your doctor says as well, as high-risk pregnancies and those that require certain medications require modifications to standard pregnancy oral health plans.
Family Dental Care of Bellevue provides quality dental care to patients and their families, and has been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. Call us today at 425-643-5778 to learn how we can help improve your smile.