If you’ve recently found out you’re pregnant, congratulations! This is such an exciting time in life! Your top priority upon finding out about this new life instantly becomes the health and well-being of your new baby. In all of the excitement, it is easy to let your dental health slip to the back of your mind. However, your oral health is a key factor in overall health of your body!
Even if you have a strong oral care routine, the hormonal changes that are an inevitable side-effect of pregnancy can cause some unforeseen oral health issues. Periodontal disease has been shown to be linked to premature birth and low birth weight, and bacteria from tooth decay or infection can be passed along to your baby. At Scott Edwards, D.D.S, we’re committed to providing the best care for you and your growing family!
How Hormones Affect Your Oral Health
During pregnancy, your hormones change to accommodate your growing baby. Unfortunately, this also causes most of the unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, mood swings, and food cravings or aversions. Hormones can also cause your gums to swell. This is referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. The increased blood flow caused by hormones can also cause your gums to be more sensitive to plaque and bacteria.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, if you notice that your gums are bleeding more than usual the best thing to do is be proactive and seek out the advice of your dentist. If gingivitis isn’t treated correctly, it can progress and damage the bone that holds your teeth in place and cause your teeth to loosen or even fall out; this is called periodontal disease. Since your hormones can affect how your body reacts to bacteria in your mouth, periodontal issues can develop much quicker when you’re pregnant than they usually would. Typically, these symptoms will be most severe during your second trimester.
Your dentist may recommend coming in for professional cleanings more often after learning of your new pregnancy. At home, keep brushing twice a day, and flossing once a day. This can be hard when you’re exhausted, but it’s worth it to keep your baby healthy! Try using a soft-bristled toothbrush to reduce gum irritation. While flossing may be uncomfortable, it is especially important when your gums are swollen because bits of food can get stuck in hard-to-reach places.
Pregnancy and Tooth Erosion.
After a long day, it may be tempting to satisfy that sweet-tooth. However, this can cause more harm than you might realize. Bacteria love acid and can multiply and produce more acid that can weaken the enamel of your teeth. Snacking more frequently, whether or not it’s sweet, can weaken your teeth because they are exposed to harmful acids more often. Drinking lots of water is essential to help rinse the bacteria off of your teeth. Fluoride mouthwash can also help keep your teeth clean, while helping prevent bad breath in the case that hormones are causing an increase in plaque.
Vomiting due to morning sickness can also significantly erode your teeth, as the acid from your stomach sits on your teeth. While you, unfortunately, may not be able to do much to stop morning sickness, you can take some simple steps to help minimize tooth erosion.
- Don’t brush your teeth right away. Brushing your teeth is abrasive, so doing it when your enamel is already weakened by acid can scratch your enamel.
- Rinse your mouth with water.
- Follow this with a fluoridated mouthwash.
- If you don’t have mouthwash, gently rub toothpaste on your teeth with your finger.
- After at least an hour, you can brush your teeth with your soft-bristled toothbrush.
Though the name may be scary, these tumors are not cancer, so don’t worry. They’re lumps that form on your gum between your teeth. Pregnancy tumors look red and raw and usually bleed easily. These can happen as a result of having too much plaque. They usually go away on their own after giving birth, but in rare cases, they may need to be removed. If they are especially uncomfortable, let one of the doctors at Scott Edwards, D.D.S, know, and they may determine to remove them while you’re still pregnant.
Dental Care During Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant or planning on getting pregnant, schedule an appointment with one of the doctors at Scott Edwards, D.D S. We can assess the current condition of your teeth and take care of any pressing issues that could affect you or your baby. We can also determine how often you should come in for dental cleanings during your pregnancy. Tell your doctor about any medications you take or if your pregnancy is high risk. This might affect your treatment plan. Dental checkups before and during pregnancy are important so your dentist can find and treat dental problems early, as well as keep your teeth and gums healthy!
Some people may worry that x-rays will harm their baby, but they’re perfectly safe! Dental x-rays use very small amounts of radiation and your dentist will cover you with a special apron and collar to protect you and your baby. If your dentist wants to give you an x-ray, make sure they know that you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
If you need a dental procedure done, your dentist will most likely schedule it during the second trimester, unless it’s an emergency. Local anesthesia is safe to use during pregnancy for treatments like fillings and extractions. If your dentist prescribes any medication after your treatment, check with your prenatal care provider before taking it.
Give Your Baby a Great Start with Dental Care from Scott Edwards, D.D.S.
The dentist can be a great help in keeping your mouth (and your baby) healthy during pregnancy. If you ever notice symptoms such as bad breath, loose teeth, mouth sores or lumps, new spaces between your teeth, receding or painful gums, contact us right away. And of course, maintain good oral habits like brushing your teeth and flossing. Remember that you’re not just doing it for yourself, but for your baby!